April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). During the month, we encourage you to raise awareness about the realities of sexual assault, provide effective services for victims, and disseminate resources and tools to you department members and to members of your community.
Promising Practices to Improve Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault:
- Policies: Collaborate with community partners (advocates, prosecutors, medical personnel, etc.) to develop and implement a comprehensive policy specifically addressing sexual assault response and investigation including guidelines for dispatch, responding officer, investigator, and supervisor responsibilities
- Training: Ensure all members are trained on the co-occurring nature of violence against women crimes; specifically highlight sexual violence that occurs in abusive relationships. Officers should inquire about sexual violence on calls for domestic violence.
- Communication: Work closely with university and college campus law enforcement in your community to establish partnerships and memoranda of understanding to strengthen the response to and investigation of sexual assault.
- Collaboration: Join or establish local sexual assault response team to better support victims and hold offenders accountable.
- Practices: Conduct suspect forensic exams for all sexual assault cases where the victim is willingly participating in the criminal justice process and a suspect has been named or identified through investigation.
- Procedures: Establish agency procedures that allow for anonymous reports, 3rd party reports, and/or blind reports as well as an on-line system for reporting of sexual assault.
The IACP, in collaboration with U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), has created numerous resources on sexual assault crimes including an executive guide to address sexual offenses and misconduct by law enforcement, a sexual assault law enforcement roll-call training video, and sexual assault investigative guidelines. If you would like copies of these or other resources for your agency or organization, please contact Michael Rizzo (Rizzo@theiacp.org) for more information, or visit our Violence Against Women Project website.
For additional ideas on how to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.