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Trauma-informed policing: Learn how three highly experienced community leaders strengthen ties between police and community


ACEs initiative participants in communities where there is tension between the community and law enforcement will want to join Becky Haas in a compelling conversation on law enforcement, ACEs science, COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement and protests. Haas is a nationally recognized adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) science initiative builder and trainer. She and colleagues Renee Wilson-Simmons, the head of the ACE Awareness Foundation of Memphis, Tennessee, and Maggi Duncan, executive director of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, will share a vision of trauma-informed law enforcement and answer your questions on Friday, July 31 at noon PDT; 3 p.m. EDT.

Wilson-Simmons and Haas will discuss, among other topics, how parents are the key to preventing many ACEs, and give an in-depth look at the ACE Awareness Foundation's signature program, Universal Parenting Places (UPP), where parents can receive professional counseling, information, and emotional support for family-related issues or concerns, no matter how small. 

Haas and Duncan will discuss how their mutual passion to reduce childhood trauma has led to their work on behalf of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to launch,  statewide, the Handle with Care (HWC) law, an innovative partnership with law enforcement and education.

In 2016, when Haas was working for the Johnson City Tennessee Police Department, staff was approached by HWC developer, Andrea Darr, about launching the program. Since Haas was simultaneously beginning to train her community about ACEs she knew that HWC was what they needed in her area of Tennessee, ravaged with opioid addiction, to help prevent trauma for children there.

Haas headshot

Haas had started sharing ACEs science with her community shortly after learning about it in 2015. Getting the word about HWC was another step in a long path toward helping the state of Tennessee, and now communities throughout the United States, become more trauma-informed. 

“When children have seen parents fighting, or acting out in other ways on drugs or alcohol, to the point that law enforcement comes to their home, these children are in no shape, emotionally, physically, or mentally, to perform at school the next day. This law helps prevent already traumatized kids from having to take tests or go through other stressors at school. There is little learning done when a child is not rested, fed, regulated, and connected to his or her teachers. This law is about not re-traumatizing already traumatized children, by forcing them to perform when they are wrung out and dysregulated,” Haas said.

“By having law enforcement communicating by email to the child’s school, with only the child’s name and the words ‘handle with care’ on the email, school administrators, teachers, and counselors now know to give a child who needs it some safe and nurturing space and time to rest and recover,” Haas said. 

HWC was among many topics discussed when Haas and her partner in community building, Dr. Andrea Clements, a psychology professor at East Tennessee State University, hosted two governor's wives, representatives from Tennessee and 20 other states at a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration forum (SAMHSA) forum in Johnson City in September 2018.

It was at that forum that several of Wilson-Simmons’ staff members from the ACE Awareness Foundation in Memphis shared about what they are doing with regard to the innovative UPP program, based on the work of international speaker Robin Karr-Morse, founder of “The Parenting Institute” based in Portland, Oregon.


Haas wanted to know more about this program with four sites in Memphis and one in Leland, Mississippi, and reached out to Wilson-Simmons. 

During the webinar, Wilson-Simmons and Haas will discuss the work done by the ACE Awareness Foundation and the UPPs. She will also ask Wilson-Simmons to share the latest on the work the foundation is doing to develop a partnership with the City of Memphis to ensure that the city's police officers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are aware of ACEs and the important work of the UPPs, and are prepared to share information about the UPPs and make informal referrals to the UPPs.

Webinar participants will also be invited to ask Wilson-Simmons questions about the origin of the partnership, and her advice on how such a partnership might be replicated.


Haas and Duncan met at the 2018 Tennessee Governor’s Summit, where Haas was speaking. Fellow Summit attendees from the Office of Criminal Justice Programs introduced the two women and Duncan, knowing of Haas’ work in crime reduction and with the Johnson City PD, she knew she wanted her assistance when the time came.  Duncan and the TACP have been providing training on the West Virginia HWC model for a few years but now were ready to look at launching HWC throughout Tennessee and asked Haas to help train law enforcement. This program of the Tennessee Association of Police Chiefs was set to begin this past spring, but was tabled, for now, by COVID-19.

Today Haas consults with leaders in law enforcement, juvenile justice, corrections, education, healthcare, and communities of faith. Her work to help create groundbreaking programs, including Building Strong Brains Tennessee and the Building a Trauma Informed System of Care toolkit, has led her to speaking and meeting officials throughout the country.

Haas and Duncan say that during the webinar they will talk about how HWC is a good starting point for community sectors such as education, police, and child services to begin working together to the benefit of all. They will also

  • Discuss the importance of police understanding trauma/ACEs science

  • Share tools to help reduce trauma on-scene for children

  • Give examples of trauma-informed policing and officer self-care 

  • Paint a picture of some solutions for what has been happening in policing for the last couple of months, since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, including the worldwide protests against police brutality and for defunding police forces 

  • Do a reality check on the challenges of taking trauma-informed policies into a police department 

  • Share the benefits of what an informed partnership between officers of the peace could mean for officers and communities 

Click here to register for the Trauma-Informed Policing webinar.


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