Nancy Johnson, Maureen Johnson, Sharon Gehrman-Driscoll and Lt. John Naegel after presenting Death Notification and Sensitivity Training at a conference in Wisconsin.

Death Notification/Sensitivity Training is a POST accredited course offered by Sharon Gehrman-Driscoll and Nancy Johnson of Minnesotans for Safe Driving and Lt. John Nagel of the Minnesota State Patrol. This class is provided at no cost to law enforcement, EMT’s, coroners, clergy, etc., but donations are happily accepted.

One of the most difficult and emotional duties of law enforcement and first responders is notifying families about the death of a loved one in a crash. Nancy and Sharon have provided this course for over 10 years. Besides attending Death Notification/Sensitivity Training themselves, they have over 20 years each of experience as Victim Advocates. Through the years this training program has evolved to include a member of law enforcement. Presently Lieutenant John Nagle, a long time officer with the Minnesota State Patrol, supplies the first responder aspect of this training. His information is very helpful due to his personal experience from a law enforcement perspective.

“Officers will benefit from this training
by being more confident in their message
delivery, and by being better prepared to deal
with their own stress……..”
Sgt. Kyle Larson, Maple Grove PD

This Death Notification Training is presented in three segments. The first segment is a basic understanding of “Grief and Mourning” Also described is the unique process of homicide survivor grief and how important a notification is to the family’s long-term mental health. The memory of being informed that your child, spouse or parent has just died, often unexpectedly, will remain with individuals their entire lifetime. This segment is presented by Nancy whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver. The second segment explains the “do’s and don’ts” of death notification from a victim’s perspective. We understand that notifying the family of the death of a loved one is often the most difficult duty confronting an officer and this training is not intended to make the responsibility any easier, but it has proven to be beneficial to both the officer and the family members. The third segment is from an officer’s perspective. When tragic news has to be delivered it will certainly leave an impression of the agency for years to come. Years of experience have shown that the reaction officers receive from family members can vary greatly and is often unpredictable and emotionally charged. More importantly, how an officer communicates with the family will help both the family and officer during this difficult and traumatic time.

“The information provided is very valuable
to law enforcement who are charged
with delivering death messages to family members and loved ones”
Bob Molz, Chief of Police, Jordan, Mn

Minnesotans For Safe Driving, as a victim advocate non-profit group, feels that Death Notification/Sensitivity Training is an important aspect of an officers training. We are grateful for the dedication shown by Law Enforcement regarding safety on Minnesota roadways. Our job assisting victims of traffic crashes resulting in fatalities and injuries caused by drunk drivers and other irresponsible driving behavior is made less difficult due to your efforts.

For more information about including this training in your department’s in-service training, contact Sharon at 952-238-0970.