At an event held last week at FBI Headquarters, the Bureau—in conjunction with its partners at Penn State University (PSU)—announced a new, no-cost training website.
It is for law enforcement agencies and other first responders responsible for notifying the family members of those who have died suddenly as a result of a crime, an accident, a suicide, or other type of incident.
This initiative was developed to better equip law enforcement personnel, victim advocates, coroners, medical examiners, chaplains, hospital staff, and others who find themselves delivering death notifications to do so with professionalism, dignity, and compassion.
Funded under the FBI’s Active Shooter Initiative, the 45 minute online learning module—available to first responders nationally and internationally—begins with an impact video featuring Karen Schmoyer, the mother of a Pennsylvania murder victim, who shares her personal experiences of when and how she was told of her 15-year-old daughter’s death.
The training also features descriptions of a proper four-step death notification process that includes extensive planning and preparation for the visit to the next of kin, the actual visit to deliver the notification, and the follow-up with the family. And it notes that death notifications should always be made in person, even if the family doesn’t live in the same jurisdiction.
The training—based on best practice standards and the latest research—covers a variety of considerations, including mass casualty events, foreign national victims living in the U.S. and American citizens living abroad, language barriers and other cultural differences, dealing with children and the elderly, the role of victim assistance, the media, and the impact of social media.
It features a resource section with web links, a pocket guide for the death notification team to use, and a grief brochure that can be left with the family after the notification. A second video included in the training involves reenactments of proper death notifications.
The training is entitled “We Regret to Inform You…” and can be accessed here.