MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Connecticut police recruits are preparing future officers for domestic violence calls. The special training exercise strengthens the relationship between police and advocates.

Lindsey Michaels is not only a police officer but a trained advocate for victims of domestic violence. She says roughly one-third of calls to police are for these conflicts, and they can be difficult to handle.

“There are so many components to domestic violence,” Michaels said. “Whenever a police officer gets called to a residence, that represents the abuser losing control in that situation.”

Between June 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, nearly 39,000 victims received aid from the Connecticut Coalition for Domestic Violence. The Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden is preparing future recruits to handle calls with victims with a hands-on training exercise focused on communication.

“When you’re going from a recruit to a full-time officer, one of the biggest jumps is being able to articulate and verbally talk about what you need to do,” said Marc Fasano, Division Director of Basic Training.

The police barracks were used as apartments. The advocates waiting inside each door were playing the role of domestic violence victims.

The recruit enters the residence to speak with the victim and gets a statement.

Brittany Kennedy is a trained advocate in New Haven and says this training benefits the people who need help.

“In the past, we’re viewed as two separate entities, police and victim advocates,” Kennedy said. “This training is super important because we’re merging and victims. What they really need is for us to be in partnership with police.”

And the recruits feel more prepared for the process.