Voices Lecture Series: Michael K. Sweeney, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
1:00 - 3:00pm
Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom

Michael K. Sweeney, TAASA
Michael K. Sweeney
As a 28 year law enforcement veteran, Michael K. Sweeney handled many sexual assault cases at the Aurora, CO and Ocean Springs, MS police departments. Now he is teaching law enforcement officers, advocates, and counselors how to investigate these cases and understand victims and perpetrators.

Sweeney is a training specialist for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, a statewide advocacy group for sexual assault survivors and the agencies that serve them. He will discuss the myths and realities of sexual assault, including stranger versus non-stranger assaults, the revictimization of survivors by the criminal justice system, the neurobiology of trauma, and how to investigate a case and interview victims and perpetrators. He also will provide career tips for those interested in joining the victim services field.

man's hands comforting a woman's hands.Sweeney began his career in 1984 in the Aurora Police Department, where even as a rookie he handled more sexual assault cases than drunk driving cases. That trend continued throughout his career. Sweeney served in Aurora from 1984-1998 and earned two Meritorious Service Awards as a Narcotics Detective.

In 1998, he relocated to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, rising to the rank of Chief of Detectives at the Ocean Springs Police Department. He specialized in interviewing and interrogation techniques as well as statement analysis.
After his retirement from the Ocean Springs Police Department, he became a Master Trainer for the National Alliance of Chaplains Corps. He provided training programs for chaplains, who often are first responders for death notifications, on such issues as stress management, debriefing, sexual assault and suicides. In 2008, he graduated from the FBI National Academy.

Sweeney joined TAASA in March and serves as the police liaison, the first law enforcement officer in that position. He provided trainings for local departments, Border Patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, as well as victim advocates, rape crisis center personnel and licensed professional counselors in a multi-disciplinary approach to handle sexual assault cases.

“That’s something that wouldn’t happen 30 years ago,” said Sweeney.

Sweeney said there are many career opportunities available in the field to help victims in advocacy groups and law enforcement agencies.

“Unfortunately, this is not something that goes away anytime soon,” Sweeny said. “It’s a very rewarding career.

It can be heart-wrenching at times, so there is a lot of self-care that is needed. A lot of people go into these careers thinking they can change the world and make a difference. If you take small bites at a time and one step at a time, you can.”

Voices is a new lecture series designed to provide a forum for students to learn about victimization and how they might contribute in their future careers to preventing victimization and responding thoughtfully and supportively to crime victims.

Member of The Texas State University System