Special Services in DPS provides comprehensive support for victims of crime

Pat Brennan’s job is largely about relationships.

As director of Special Services in Penn’s Division of Public Safety, Brennan calls on relationships with associates on Penn’s campus as well as her former colleagues at the Philadelphia Police Department to help support crime victims.

This support takes many forms.

Brennan and her staff—three civilian advocates and two police officers—offer immediate emotional support, guidance, and counseling options to all victims of crime, particularly sexual assault. If a sexual assault victim decides to press charges, Brennan and her staff will accompany the person to interviews and court appearances.

“The members of Special Services support the victim throughout the process,” Brennan says, “by providing accompaniments, transportation, and advocacy when needed.”

Brennan, the designated point person for reported sexual assaults on campus, is notified immediately when a report of sexual assault is received.

This separate emphasis on victim support is unique to Penn.

“The Penn community is offered many supportive resources,” Brennan notes. “We’re unique [for] our collaboration with our counterparts across the University.”

Special Services liaisons with offices throughout the University, including Student Intervention Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Sexual Violence Investigative Officer, the Director of Student Sexual Violence Prevention and Education, and the Penn Women’s Center. People are also referred to Brennan’s office through the Division of Human Resources.

“We have formed great relationships with other resource centers across campus.” Brennan says. “By working with these centers and groups, we are able to provide a seamless support network for our community.”

Brennan has worked at Penn for the last 19 years, after spending 20 years with the Philadelphia Police Department, ending as a homicide detective. She is a Certified Trauma Services Specialist.

“When you’re a homicide detective, most of your work is in investigations—but a lot of it is exactly what I’m doing here. You build a relationship with the family of the decedent throughout the process,” Brennan says. “That’s when I got into the victim support aspect of policing. So, making the transition to victim support at Penn seemed natural for me.”

Special Services also has Rape Aggression Defense System self-defense courses, which offer women the basics of hands-on training; SAFE Training Courses, which provide women with public safety awareness information to incorporate into their daily lives; and a Safety Day for kids.

Brennan says the goal in Special Services is to help people “to move through a traumatic event and get back to a healthy place.” 

To contact Brennan or any member of her staff, call 215-898-4481 or 215-898-6600 off hours.

Pat Brennan