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Homeland Security Investigations introduce "soft rooms" for sensitive crime interviews

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HSI Soft Room

The idea is if people feel more comfortable, they will be more open to share potentially traumatizing experiences that can help an investigation.

HONOLULU (KITV4) -- Some law enforcement agencies in Hawaii are trying out a new setting to interview victims of sensitive crimes. The Soft Room is a literal room, but the way it's structured aims to physically relax victims of sensitive crimes such as exploitation or sex and labor trafficking.

The idea is if people feel more comfortable, they will be more open to share potentially traumatizing experiences that can help an investigation.

The Soft Room looks like any other lounge but the soft couches, warm colorful decorations and lights in the space are very different from traditional interview rooms.

"The whole idea is to create a comfortable safe and private space for people have the most comfortable experience talking about some potentially traumatic experiences they've gone through," Kerry Ach, Homeland Security Investigations forensic interview specialist, said.

Ach says the idea of a soft room is research based.

"Someone's physical comfort can give a signal to our brain that we are psychologically comfortable and safe," Ach said. "Their shoulders relax and I think that breathing is a bit more relaxed... It's shown to produce the maximum amount of information and while minimizing any potential re-traumatization."

Ach says another aspect of the room that creates a soothing feeling is the color. She says light and warm colors such as blue and green are most comforting while yellow, orange and red are called alert colors and might trigger an uneasy feeling.

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