In a role that serves as an important bridge between law enforcement officers and victims and survivors of crime, Catie Ladas is having an impact.
“Listening, providing resources and interacting with people at their most vulnerable moments can be so helpful,” said Ladas. “It’s important to have one person at the scene focused on their needs...everything from making sure their basic needs are met to helping them feel safe and ensuring they have a plan moving forward,” she added.
Ladas is embedded in the CU Police Department (CUPD) while rostered in the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA). She offers in-the-moment emotional support or responds on-scene after incidents, and provides follow-up information for police reports.
Ladas, who began serving in the role in summer 2023, can help students, staff and faculty as well as any community member on campus. She responds to situations like sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and harassment, as well as serious accidents and other crimes.
Ladas is supervised by CUPD Commander Eric Edford. “I feel that Catie is the best person we could have in this role, because she understands law enforcement and what is needed to protect investigations, while also having the critical understanding of victims’ needs and the ability to connect them to resources both on and off campus,” Edford said.
Prior to coming to CU Boulder and serving as CUPD’s embedded victim advocate, Ladas worked alongside local and federal law enforcement officers in Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, where she found her passion at the intersection of law enforcement and social work.
OVA Director Jessica Ladd-Webert said Ladas’ unique position helps increase collaboration between two crucial campus units for the benefit of the community. “She can work with officers and victims, providing a compassionate ear, informing victims of their rights, and connecting them to OVA and other community resources for longer-term support. It’s about having more resources to support victims and survivors,” she said.
Ladas has a bachelor’s in criminal justice and criminology with a double minor in global terrorism studies and law and society. She is currently working on her master’s degree in social work. Ladas also has experience as a forensic interviewer and previously worked with children and vulnerable adults who experienced abuse.
“There are many benefits to the immediacy of her response, including working with officers to assess the victim’s safety. For example, if the perpetrator was not arrested and could return to the scene, she can work with the officer to walk through the creation of a safety plan,” said Ladd-Webert.
Ladas can refer crime victims and survivors to confidential OVA counselors, who provide ongoing support and trauma-focused counseling. While Ladas does not have confidentiality, meaning information provided to her by victims or survivors of crime will be provided to CUPD for further investigation, OVA counselors are confidential.