News | July 2, 2021

Sexual assault prevention and EEO combine training efforts for Land and Maritime first responders

By Michael L. Jones DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime’s Sexual Assault Prevention Response Coordinator and Equal Employment Opportunity office combined to provide targeted training to the Defense Supply Center Columbus’ first responders June 24 as part of annual training requirements.

Shari Murnahan, Land and Maritime Sexual Assault Prevention Response coordinator, and Penny Coop, Land and Maritime Equal Employment Opportunity director, provided training to approximately 50 first responders during three sessions over a two-day period. The training was tailored to accommodate the groups multiple shift schedules to ensure they maintained operations.

Murnahan explained that training for law enforcement officers is often done in person and working through the pandemic during the past 15 months made meeting that requirement challenging. This session was the first time the training requirements were combined to afford officers the opportunity to complete two annual requirements in person for the first time since the pandemic began.  

After Murnahan’s welcome Copp transitioned into the training portion that addressed employees’ rights and explained how sexual harassment is considered a form of discrimination. “Sexual harassment can create a hostile work environment for an associate,” Copp said. Copp further explained the 45-day timeline associates have to report a sexual harassment allegation or risk the complaint being denied.

Although all DLA associates are required to attend annual SAPR training, the requirements for police officers, security forces and first responders are structured differently due to the sensitive situations they encounter when responding to sexual assault incidents or assisting someone who wants to report a potentially harmful situation.

Transitioning into the sexual assault portion of the training Murnahan talked about some of the differences that distinguish sexual assault from sexual harassment. She said sexual assault involves intentional physical contact and that the response protocols are different. “Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination, whereas sexual assault is a crime and has no time restrictions on reporting,” Murnahan said.

SARCs serve as victim advocates while EEO officers work more directly in filing a harassment case where they transfer the investigative responsibilities to a third party. SARCs regularly connect victims to support resources through referrals.

The duo closed out the training with the presentation of a video titled Trauma and the Brain to help first responders better understand the myriad emotions and responses they may be confronted with when encountering sexual assault victims.

To learn more about the SAPR program and confidential reporting options visit https://www.dla.mil/Info/SAPR.aspx or call 1-800-841-0937