The RIGHTS Project: Reaching Immigrants, Gaining Trust
Many immigrants fear and distrust law enforcement based, in large part, on experiences that occurred in their native countries (e.g., corruption and brutality committed by police and government officials). In addition, immigrants are often unfamiliar with local laws defining criminal conduct, making themselves highly vulnerable to being victimized by strangers, neighbors, co-workers, employers, or family members. The RIGHTs Project engages nontraditional stakeholders (teachers and tutors) in a nontraditional setting (classrooms) to raise awareness about domestic abuse, sexual violence, and human trafficking, and the corresponding rights, relief and resources available to victims. Our most recent phase of the program includes a dedicated focus on identifying and preventing scams for which immigrants may be vulnerable, realizing that immigrants may be the unsuspecting targets of financial exploitation.
Citizenship and ESL tutors build close, longstanding relationships with their students; and often times, they are the only non-immigrant with whom students have a relationship. Thus, the RIGHTs Project provides the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office with a window of opportunity to reach immigrant victims by empowering tutors with the knowledge and resources to help protect their students. Tutors become ambassadors in helping to demystify the criminal justice system, dispelling many of the myths that prevent immigrant victims from accessing help.
The Workplace Safety and Violence Prevention Program was created in response to escalating incidents of violence in the workplace. The initiative is a unique public-private partnership which provides training in best practices for intervention, prevention, and response to unacceptable workplace behavior, including bullying and acts of violence. The program addresses the need for an organization-wide commitment to safety, the creation and communication of clear policies, and the training and empowering of employees in preventing and responding to workplace safety concerns.
Trainings recognize the importance of strengthening relationships between employees and those responsible for preventing and responding to incidents and emergencies. Trainings have two components: A 90-minute Recognition and Minimization session, where participants discuss policy concepts and assess their own internal training needs; and a 4-hour session, devoted to joining personnel from various divisions within the organization for an in-depth discussion and exercise using hypothetical scenarios. Employers can choose to participate in one component or both, together or in succession. Participants include senior management, human resources personnel, and security officers.
In addition, the Middlesex District Attorney's Office offers periodic half-day and full-day conferences on issues that commonly intersect with workplace violence, such as mental health, domestic violence, and house of worship safety.