Three Casper bars have completed Bystander Intervention Training provided by the Casper Police Department. This training program is offered to help prevent sexual assault in social situations.

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According to a prepared statement from the Casper Police Department, the training program utilizes real-worlfd examples and best practices on how bar and restaurant staff can help stop sexual assault situations.

In April and May of this year, three local establishments, including The Office Bar & Grill and Backwards Distilling Company, completed the training workshops.

“As a law enforcement agency, we often see the devastating impact of sexual assault after it has already taken place,” said Casper Police Detective Tiffany Elhart. “It is our goal to take the real-world knowledge we have learned through these investigations and find ways we can partner with our community to make a real impact in stopping sexual assault. Training staff at local bars and restaurants to not only spot the signs – but also feel comfortable doing something about it – is a very real way we can start putting a stop to this tragedy right here at home.”

Karen Kanelos, owner of The Office Bar & Grill stated that she gave her employees the option to participate in the training as paid hours.

"I let all the employees have the option to be paid, to kind of entice them to be a part of it so that they could learn more about what happens," Kanelos stated. "I wanted them to learn something almost similar to a TIPS training, but just to give them an overall look of what happens and what can happen and how we can all play a part in making our establishment a safer place."

Kanelos said the training only lasted a couple of hours. It included a video, a question and answer session, and more.

"I loved watching all of our employees participate and I loved listening to their opinions on certain things," she said.

The CPD post stated that Bystander Intervention "promotes safe and positive ways everyday people can prevent or intervene when there is a risk for sexual violence. This includes calling attention to situations that could lead to violence before it happens, stepping in during an incident, and speaking out against ideas and behaviors that support violence."

The point of the training program is to cultivate a bar culture that "promotes positive and healthy interactions that helps reduce the risk of sexual violence perpetration."

Kanelos said that bar owners and managers have somewhat of a responsibility to keep things safe in their establishments.

"I feel as though it's kind of our job since we're actually serving them," she stated. "I tell my employees to keep an eye on the situation at all times so that it doesn't turn weird or escalate into something that we wouldn't want to happen. I tell them to be aware because when the patrons come in, they're our responsibility as long as they're in our establishment. And I teach all of my employees to think like that."

Though only a small handful of establishments have completed the training at the time of this writing, the CPD hopes that most of the bars and restaurants in town will eventually participate in it.

Kanelos hopes that too.

"I feel as though bar managers, owners, or whoever's in charge - I think that they could gain a little bit more knowledge of realizing that it's always going on and you have to watch for it because, if you do, then you don't have to worry about whether a person is going to end up in somebody's back seat and nobody knows she's there," she said. "I think it would be a really smart thing if everybody just participated because then we're all on the same team."

To learn more about Bystander Intervention Training and see the list of trained establishments, visit casperpolice.org/sexualassaultawarenessmonth.

 

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