Investigating Sexual Assaults on College Campuses
One in five female students are sexually assaulted on college campuses around the country, according to a White House report. However, the actual number of crimes reported to police is significantly lower—only five percent, according to some studies.
Back in 2014, the White House established a memorandum to protect students from sexual assault, that called for proper law enforcement procedures. However, recent research has uncovered that many of those guidelines were not being followed.
“…compliance with these Federal laws is uneven and, in too many cases, inadequate,” White House officials wrote in a statement.
Now, the University of Texas System Police has created new protocols to help officers understand sexual assaults on college campuses, and provide best practices for investigating such crimes in the future.
The 170-page blueprint to help campus police better understand and evaluate sexual assaults.
The Blueprint for Campus Police provides guidance to better “engage and understand” victims from the investigation process to its conclusion, according to a release.
“Having the opportunity to rely directly on the scientific and academic community to inform police practices is a rare and powerful foundation for action,” UT System Police Director Michael Heidingsfield said in a written statement. “We must publicly acknowledge our moral obligation to understand sexual assault for the life-altering and destructive experience it is, and be champions of those victimized.”
The UT System Police have 600 sworn officers that patrol 14 academic and health institutions and are responsible for protecting more than 300,000 students.
Last August, the UT System launched a $1.7-million, multiyear study to identify the psychological, academic and economic impact of sexual violence.
The Blueprint is the latest effort to help combat sexual violence by promoting the following:
- Create a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach to the crime.
- Increase reporting strategies on the crime.
- Integrate knowledge about reporting, and also underreporting sexual assaults.
- Understand the magnitude and controversies surrounding sexual assault on college campuses.
- Recognize their role in identifying and complying with policies and procedures.
- Understand the existing and emerging body of knowledge around policies and procedures when addressing the crime.
- Demonstrate the skills necessary to successfully identify and implement policies and procedures to address the crime.