STOP THE STIGMA

SCRIPT

Summit on Community Resilience, Intervention, Prevention, and Training

Panelist 

Assistant Chief Paul L. Acosta 

Chief Acosta began his law enforcement career in 1991 in North Carolina and joined the Miami Beach Police Department in 1995.  He has served in a variety of capacities and positions of rank including: Major of the Criminal Investigations Division, Patrol Captain, Executive Officer of the North Beach area, Commander of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), liaison to the Office of Emergency Management, special events, support services, and patrol operations. Acosta has also served as a trainer for a number of disciplines within the Department. His most recent assignment was as the Patrol Major in charge of the Operations Division of the MBPD.

Chief Acosta has received numerous honors and awards during his career including the Miami Beach Police Department's Life Saving Award and Exceptional Service Award. He is a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps and was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon and the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Chief Acosta graduated from the prestigious FBI National Academy 278th Session and served as the graduation spokesperson. He has also completed the Leadership in Police Organizations Course, the Senior Management Institute for Police program at Boston University and has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Management from Union Institute and University.

Tristin Engels, Psy.D.

Dr. Tristin Engels is the maternal granddaughter of Louis R. Vitullo, the man who co-invented the rape kit. Growing up just outside of Chicago, she spent every Sunday, holidays, and school vacations with her grandfather at his home in Cary, Illinois.

Dr. Engels was inspired by her grandfather’s life and accomplishments. In 2009, she moved to California to attend graduate school. In 2013, she completed her degree and became a Forensic Psychologist. She has worked with juvenile and adults within the criminal justice system, both incarcerated and on parole or probation. She now treats offenders with significantly long, violent, and sexually deviant histories with the hopes of addressing maladaptive behavioral patterns, identifying undiagnosed mental illnesses, and ultimately reducing their risk of reoffending.

Kandee Lewis, M.A.

Kandee Rochelle Lewis, executive director of Positive Results Center (PRC) and Founder of Black Women Leaders of Los Angeles, is a certified domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide awareness prevention advocate, addressing trauma from a cultural and age perspective. Through training for youth and parents, facilitated events, and the creation of youth-peer advocacy programs, Ms. Lewis provides tools and strategies to form and maintain healthy, productive relationships. 

While Ms. Lewis focused PRC's work on Southern California's youth, she also led PRC to create a broader support system across the Nation for youth wellness and relationship success. Through partnerships with K-12 schools, colleges, health care, law enforcement, judicial, government, community & faith-based organizations, training them to recognize and deal effectively with trauma BIPOC youth and Ms. Lewis' work is well recognized. The LA County Board of Supervisors named Ms. Lewis its Woman of the Year in 2017. Vanguard recognized her as a Most Influential African American in Los Angeles in 2018. In 2019 she received the Champion of Peace & Non-Violence Award, the Trailblazers Award, and Community Plus Award. Other awards include the Johnnie L. Cochran Award for Youth Violence Prevention and the 2015 Woman of the Year.

Ms. Lewis has trained with the National Association of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Women of Color Network. She has been a member of the Los Angeles City Council's Domestic Violence Roundtable and Mayor Eric Garcetti's Human Trafficking Portal.

Born & raised in Los Angeles and married for 38 1/2 years, Ms. Lewis and her husband Carl have three adult children and a Pit Bull/Boxer!

Rape kits have helped overturn many cases of the wrongfully convicted and also assisted with finding justice for survivors. However, many people do not know the story about how and why the rape kit was developed and how it assists law enforcement and attorneys with the cases.  This panel will explore the origin of the rape kit from the granddaughter of the creator and learn its need for the investigative system.  It will discuss the topic from many different professional perspectives and also examine why there are over 400,000 still unprocessed rape kits.


1) What are rape kits and why are they so important for your area of expertise?

2) From your background and experience why were there so many wrongly convicted individuals and what does that do to the survivor (the victim and falsely accused)?

3) Why are there so many unprocessed rape kits?

4) Is there a multicultural component to this topic?

5) Is there anything currently being done that can be used to assist making this a better process?

6) In your opinion, what should be the focus of this community/global collaboration to assist with change?