Agents of Change: Commander Doug Eckert

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There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to feature as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email prevention@star.ngo.


My motivation comes from the survivors of sexual assault who have not had the opportunity to get the conclusion they should receive. I constantly look at what was done that could have been done better, and what could have been done that wasn’t done. I try to improve on the past to be better each day.

– Commander Doug Eckert    

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In 2014, the Office of the Inspector General issued a report that outlined widespread problems within the Sex Crimes unit of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). This, in addition to the 2012 Consent Decree, promoted many changes in leadership, personnel, policies, and practices. Commander Doug Eckert was reassigned within the NOPD to oversee sex crimes investigations and has contributed to major improvements that were assessed in a follow-up report this year. We are pleased to feature him as an Agent of Change. 

1. What is your relationship with STAR? 

I learned of STAR when I was appointed as the Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) in March of 2015. A unit under my command is the Special Victim’s Section (SVS).  As I began to attend monthly meetings with almost every advocacy group involved in sexual assault response in the metropolitan area, I had the opportunity to meet Margaret Reynolds, the Greater New Orleans Regional Director of STAR.

As time passed, members of the NOPD SVS began using the services and resources of STAR. Our relationship continues to grow as both are now very closely involved in the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) to ensure that sexual assault kits dated prior to May of 2015 are tested and that the delivery of testing results to survivors is provided in a trauma-informed manner and every possible resource to assist them is made available.

2. What led you to your work in sexual assault prevention and/or response?

My appointment led me to work in SVS after years in homicide and violent crimes. I was unaware of the extent of sexual abuse actually committed in today’s society. Upon assuming my command I was afforded the opportunity to delve into the investigations my Team was handling. This was a real eye-opener for me both in the degree of trauma experienced by the survivor and the complexity of the investigation.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your involvement in this work?

I find it most rewarding to ensure the investigators working sexual assault investigations have the resources and training needed to properly and effectively do their jobs. A successful conclusion for the survivors of sexual abuse is an arrest and conviction and all the resources he or she needs to continue through life, a life that will never be the same.

4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?

My motivation comes from the survivors of sexual assault who have not had the opportunity to get the conclusion they should receive. I constantly look at what was done that could have been done better, and what could have been done that wasn’t done. I try to improve on the past to be better each day.

5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in your community?

Unfortunately, a major part of the community does not see the day-to-day work my Team does unless they become a victim to these violent acts. Behind the scenes, my Team attends significant training. Every report of sexual assault is taken seriously, as they should be, and throughout the investigations, discussions are held with Multi-Disciplinary Teams to ensure everything that can be done is done with an investigation. Continuous efforts are made to build and maintain relationships with all of our partners involved in the fight against sexual assault. As their commander, it will become more of my responsibility to bring the spotlight on this crime and our response.

6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement? 

I would tell them to learn as much as possible about how important this fight is. I would let them know that more sexual assaults occur by perpetrators known to the survivors than by strangers, and that “no” does in fact mean “no.” I would go on to say that we have young women and men being unknowingly drugged and raped. I would encourage them to get in the fight against sexual assault because someone they know may have already been a victim of this violent crime, and they too could fall victim as well.

And I would let them know this is not just the responsibility of the criminal justice system, as the criminal justice system comes after the act. We, the criminal justice system as well as all sexual assault advocates, need help from the whole community in getting involved to stop sexual violence before it happens.

 

Get involved and make change with STAR!

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