Thursday May 22, 2014
Every April, during Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Vermont Center for Crime Victims holds its Annual Conference where, this year, Sergeant Dan Brunelle of the South Burlington Police Department received the Ally Award - an honor celebrating his dedication and long-term commitment to preventing domestic violence and making a difference for victims of crime.
The annual awards recognize victim activists who have inspired the center through their acts of courage and compassion, individuals whose work has been particularly innovative and pioneering, and those who exemplify the long-term commitment that characterizes many of Vermont’s victim service providers.
Sgt. Brunelle has been a police officer for over 15 years, and has been a domestic violence (DV) instructor since 2010 when Vermont legislation was enacted requiring additional training for police officers. He is key to training South Burlington police officers in DV and its impacts, and helps to create a model of training and support available from the police and the courts to victims of DV.
Sgt. Brunelle has been an amazing ally and support for the police department’s role in preventing domestic violence and in handling DV calls. He has presented special training on documenting DV through photography, and has taught a block of instruction on digital documentation with a heavy emphasis on assault injury documentation to every full time academy class.
Brunelle was a willing and vocal member of the Women Helping Battered Women’s panel in October 2013, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, when the organization hosted a community forum and screening of “Telling Amy’s Story”. He spoke eloquently about the role of the police department, what they can and cannot do, and what is needed to truly make a difference for victims. When asked specifically, by a Chittenden County senator, what the needs are or what can be done to really make a difference, he was able to provide a solid list of ideas.
He has taken the time to write to Vermont senators and representatives to note the viewpoint of first line responders as they address DV related calls, and is an active member of ongoing panels, groups, and discussion forums.
As noted by Janice Santiago of WHBW who nominated Brunelle for this prestigious award, “We need more voices like his to engage and step up.”
The Ally Award is given to a volunteer, professional or program who, outside of the course of performing their regular duties, has advocated for a victim centered policy, implemented victim-centered practices and has made a significant impact in support of victims, in policy revision, and the promotion of best practices within victim services.