For the past 20 years, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has collaborated with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women to support law enforcement agencies around the country with improving their response to crimes of violence against women, including sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and strangulation. Historically, many law enforcement agencies have lacked the training opportunities, tools, resources, and support needed to effectively address these crimes. In addition, these crimes may receive less attention and resources than other crimes due to community misunderstandings and misperceptions about trauma and the realities of crime victims and perpetrators. In providing training to first responders, investigators, and leadership, the importance of strong leadership at every level, coupled with accountability mechanisms, has been clear. Recent research findings and promising practices show that the most effective response to these crimes looks beyond a single incident that occurred in order to identify a pattern as well as the co-occurrence of other crimes.
In addition to providing training events and technical assistance, the IACP develops and distributes resources to aid law enforcement agencies in responding to these complex crimes. For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, agencies are encouraged to review the resources below and integrate them into department policy and procedures:
- Sexual Assault Incident Reports: Investigative Strategies
This document aims to strengthen sexual assault investigations and set national uniform standards for sexual assault case coding and documentation. It includes guidelines for case documentation, effective techniques for victim and perpetrator interviews, a supplemental report form, a pocket “tip” card for officers, and separate training keys for different parts of sexual assault investigations. The treatment a sexual assault victim receives from first responders and investigators will likely impact their trust in the criminal justice system and their decision to move forward with their case or not.
- Sexual Assault Response Policy and Training Content Guidelines
This document includes procedure and policy recommendations addressing various levels of law enforcement response, as well as collaborating with community partners. These guidelines present training curriculum content that should accompany the implementation of a new or updated sexual assault policy to ensure officers understand the complex nature of these crimes. A trauma-informed, victim-centered response not only facilitates a trusting relationship between law enforcement, victims, and the community, but can help to hold offenders accountable by increasing victim engagement in the criminal justice process.
- Video: Bringing Sexual Assault Offenders to Justice
Available online, this three-segment training video, along with the accompanying discussion guide, supports officers to generate stronger cases by reframing sexual assault crimes, providing tools to conduct perpetrator-focused investigations, and building an understanding of victim behavior. The video helps officers identify victim trauma and provides information about victim behavior, such as delayed reporting, alcohol or substance abuse, and encounters that start out consensually, that can be used to support a sexual assault report. This video also provides useful information detailing how perpetrators often have a history of unreported sexual violence and may select victims with vulnerabilities to exploit.
- Responding to Sexual Violence in LGBTQ+ Communities: Law Enforcement Strategies and Considerations
Drawing from promising practices of law enforcement agencies nationwide, this document supports building and sustaining trust and relationships with LGBTQ+ communities. The document highlights strategies for implementing effective department-wide response through agency mission, policy, training, and personnel to proactively address and prevent sexual violence in LGBTQ+ communities. Included is an agency assessment questionnaire to assist leaders to examine their operations and agency efforts. This document was developed with support from Raliance, a collaborative initiative to end sexual violence in one generation, made possible by the National Football League.
- Addressing Sexual Offenses and Misconduct by Law Enforcement
This document includes policy guidelines, accountability standards, and investigative guidelines for addressing criminal offenses, as well as non-criminal sexual conduct that is inappropriate, unprofessional, and damaging to public confidence in an agency. Members of law enforcement are entrusted with the authority to enforce laws and protect civil rights; sexual offenses and misconduct implicating law enforcement represent a grave abuse of this authority. It is imperative that executives prepare to proactively address and prevent incidents through agency mission, policy, and training.
- Supervisor Report Review Checklists
These five Report Review Checklists support law enforcement first-line supervisors as they review reports for sexual assault, stalking, strangulation, domestic violence, and protection order violations. Reports often lack significant details and elements necessary to document these complex crimes. The checklists serve to assist supervisors in ensuring that reports capture significant and comprehensive details and the totality of crimes that occurred. Questions on the checklists can also be used as a training tool to highlight specific details that should be captured in a thorough report, and as a resource for first-responders as they complete reports, interview victims, and reflect on whether pertinent information has been effectively documented.
- The Crime of Domestic Violence Training Video
Available online, this four-part training video presents law enforcement agencies and partners with information to strengthen the response to victims of domestic violence. It highlights the realities and complexities of domestic violence and provides strategies for effective investigations. Perpetrators most often sexually assault people they know; this is the case for both sexual assault and domestic violence. Officers provide as much support to victims as possible, but when equipped with a better understanding of the nuances and dynamics of this crime, they can more effectively address victims’ needs and hold offenders accountable.
- Intimate Partner Violence Response Policy and Training Guidelines
When sexual assault or domestic violence occurs between people currently or formerly in a romantic relationship, it is called intimate partner violence. To further support law enforcement in dealing with the complex situation of crimes between intimate partners, this document provides procedure and policy recommendations that address various levels of law enforcement response, as well as training curriculum content that should accompany the implementation of policies and procedures around intimate partner violence.
- Deliberations from the IACP National Forum on Body-Worn Cameras and Violence Against Women
In February 2016, IACP convened the National Forum on Body-Worn Cameras and Violence Against Women. This document captures the deliberations of this multidisciplinary forum on creating effective victim-centered body-worn camera policies and programs for law enforcement. Law enforcement leaders are encouraged to use this and a brochure of key issues to engage in community discussions on the use of body-worn cameras and facilitate dialogue regarding the crimes of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. They are tools to assist with developing, maintaining, and sustaining trust with community members.
The IACP is the world’s largest and most influential professional association for police leaders. With more than 30,000 members in 150 countries, the IACP is a recognized leader in global policing. The IACP is known for its commitment to shaping the future of the police profession. Through timely research, programming, and unparalleled training opportunities, the IACP is preparing current and emerging police leaders -- and the agencies and communities they serve -- to succeed in addressing the most pressing issues, threats, and challenges of the day. IACP membership is open to law enforcement professionals of all ranks, as well as non-sworn leaders across the criminal justice system. Learn more at www.theIACP.org.
For more information, contact Julia Holtemeyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-843-4227 ext.272.
Julia Holtemeyer and Michael Rizzo, International Association of Chiefs of Police