The Morgantown Police Department unveiled a new room on Wednesday morning inside the city’s Public Safety Building that they say will change the way they and other county law enforcement help survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

“We have the beginning of something that can really change the focus,” said Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston. “Instead of focusing on the crime itself, focusing on the victims and the trauma suffered by the victims.”

The ‘Judy King Soft Interview Room’ is made to feel safe and comfort victims while sharing their stories, a stark contrast to the interrogation rooms.

“There is a big difference between doing an interrogation and doing an interview with a victim of a crime,” said Detective Larry Hasley with the Morgantown Police Department. “As soon as we walk into that room, it’s very small, there’s a big mirror. The victims of these crimes gravitate to the corner because they don’t want to look in the mirror. Bringing them into a living room setting it’s really going to soften the experience we’re hoping.”

The space is a collaboration between the Morgantown Police Department, West Virginia University’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Title IX and the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center.

The soft interview room was created to be soothing, with large windows to allow light, couches and soft chairs, and audio and video equipment that is less noticeable to record interviews.

It was named after long-time RDVIC executive director Judy King in honor of her advocacy for victims.

“I’ve worked with a lot of victims in 37 almost 38 years and this is such a vast improvement that it’s almost impossible to describe,” King said. “This will put people at ease, and make them feel cared for, which is what advocates do.”

Law enforcement says this home-like and private setting minimizes any additional trauma for the victims, making them more open to receiving help.  

It was funded entirely though donations from individuals and business in the community.  

“It’s incredible because this just shows how much trust and faith the community has in the police department, in the social organizations and their willingness to work together and cooperate in order to make the victims the focus of our criminal activities,” Preston said.