Contact Us

To provide feedback on the Community Policing Dispatch, e-mail the editorial board at

To obtain details on COPS Office programs, publications, and resources, contact the COPS Office Response Center at 800-421-6770 or

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530


April 2018 | Volume 11 | Issue 4

Across the United States, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) provides federal leadership in developing the national capacity to reduce violence against women, as well as administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Created in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. For over 23 years, OVW has supported effective strategies for combating sexual violence and partnered with law enforcement officers who are often the gatekeepers of the criminal legal system. Without an appropriate law enforcement response, victims’ safety remains in jeopardy and offenders escape accountability, almost invariably committing more violence.

OVW grants and subgrants pay the salaries of nearly 300 law enforcement officers at any given time. In a year, these officers respond to more than 150,000 calls for service, investigate over 150,000 cases, and refer over 70,000 cases to prosecutors. OVW discretionary grants support more than 50 specialized law enforcement units, some of which focus exclusively on sexual assault cases. OVW funding also supports training for law enforcement officers so they are prepared to respond to sexual assault with the utmost competence and compassion. A law enforcement leader in a community that benefits from OVW grant funding reported: “As police officers we’ve been trained on things that are mandated, but my department has always gone above and beyond. We’re engaged with our community. We try to do things out of the norm; find ways to do things differently. That can only happen by going to training and conferences, sharing with people, opening our minds to how things are done in other parts of the country and other parts of the world.”

Moreover, OVW’s STOP and Arrest programs have provided funding to support “multidisciplinary community resource teams engaged in the comprehensive reform of approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in previously unsubmitted SAKs.” The Flint, Michigan Police Department recently reported that funding awarded in 2015 aided in the arrest of a man charged with 11 felonies in three separate rape cases. Additionally, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) provides training and technical assistance for law enforcement and their community partners, including victim advocates, prosecutors, and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, on the dynamics of sexual assault, and on assessing and improving policies, procedures and practices related to the investigation of and response to sexual assault.

Two noteworthy OVW-funded TA Projects with Promising Practices for Law Enforcement include:

  1. End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI)
    The organization was founded in 2003 by Sergeant Joanne Archambault, who retired from the San Diego Police Department after serving almost 23 years in law enforcement. During her last 10 years, she supervised the Sex Crimes Unit, which had 13 detectives and was responsible for investigating approximately 1,000 felony sexual assaults within the City of San Diego each year.

    Among EVAWI’s many activities, it formulates policies and disseminates best practices to guide reform efforts for law enforcement in the area of sexual assault.

    Joanne Archambault and Kim Lonsway served as Co-Editors of the Sexual Assault Report (SAR), an excellent bimonthly newsletter published by the Civic Research Institute, from 2008-2013.

    EVAWI encourages professionals in the field to submit manuscripts to be considered for publication in SAR. SAR publishes high quality articles and reviews of books, social science articles, and legal decisions related to sexual assault. The kinds of topics that might be interesting for SAR readers include a review of a book, DVD/video, report, or social scientific article in the field.

    Particularly interesting for SAR readers are articles that bridge the gap between research and practice, to provide concrete guidance for practitioners based on empirically supported knowledge. The publication is designed to be useful for practitioners in a wide range of disciplines, including:

    • Victim advocates and service providers
    • Prosecutors and civil attorneys
    • Law enforcement professionals
    • Medical forensic examiners
    • Researchers and educators
    • Policymakers and media representatives

    EVAWI encourages professionals in the field to submit manuscripts to be considered for publication in SAR.

    For over 10 years, EVAWI has produced training materials and other resources, as well as collecting materials from across the country and around the world – to help professionals improve the criminal justice and community response to violence against women in the area of sexual assault.

  2. Dynamics: What Does Sexual Assault Really Look Like?
    This training module is designed to explore the dynamics of sexual assault by examining common misconceptions and stereotypes, and reviewing research on the prevalence and characteristics of sexual assault. These dynamics have profound implications for the law enforcement investigation, victim responses, and strategies for successful prosecution.

    The goal is to highlight examples of communities striving to achieve the highest standards of victim-centered care and offender accountability. In other words, we are working toward our shared vision of creating a world where gender-based violence is unacceptable; where perpetrators are held accountable, and victims receive the compassion, support, and justice they deserve.

    Below are recent examples:

    • Victim Impact: How do Sexual Assault Victims Respond?
      This training module is designed to explain the impact of sexual assault victimization on the physical, psychological, and emotional well-being of victims. Increased understanding of this impact can improve victim responses, but the effects also have critical implications for a successful law enforcement investigation and prosecution of sexual assault.
    • Suggested Guidelines for Language Use on Sexual Assault
      This training bulletin offers recommendations for language that can improve our verbal and written communications as professionals in the field, helping us to provide information in ways that maximize our accuracy and clarity - and to avoid common tendencies that can create confusion, perpetuate misinformation, and contribute to a climate of doubt and victim blame.
    • Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force
      The Task Force’s Sexual Assault Training Institute (SATI) offers their successful Law Enforcement Training and Capacity Building Project (LETCBP), targeting training and technical assistance to OVW Arrest, Rural and Tribal grantees, as well as STOP sub-grantees. Additionally, they respond to TA requests referred from other OVW TA providers, specifically referrals from the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN). The project has offered basic and advanced sexual assault training for law enforcement officers nationally, targeting 14 sites over three years and training and technical support to at least 645 individuals, with the capacity to serve up to 784 individuals.

A few current OVW- funded police departments serving sexual assault victims include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The City of Elk Grove Police Department. The victim advocate on this project accompanies SA victims to the hospital for forensic evidentiary exams. Provide crisis intervention services/safety planning/ counseling, and legal assistance to victims of SA.
  • The Worcester Police Department's Special Crime Unit Detectives for the Police Initiated Response to Sexually Exploited Women (PIRSEW) program, gather s intelligence on violent sex offenders, including potential serial rapists/murderers, who target sex workers. Implement the PIRSEW program to deploy officers into the field to gather intelligence on violent sex offenders, including potential serial rapists and murderers, who target prostitute victims and provide community- based victim services.
  • The Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center (ACVSRCC) partner to provide sensitive, effective response to victims of sexual violence.
  • The Amherst Police Department (APD), the UMass Police Department (UMPD), and the Hadley Police Department (HPD) are strengthening legal advocacy and victim services for survivors of sexual assault, by supporting a civilian advocate from the Center for Women & Community who will work on-site at the APD, UMPD and HPD, and will provide follow-up victim services.
  • The Duluth Police Department will maintain its current SA project by: supporting a designated SA Investigator in the Sex Crimes Unit at the department; supporting a protocol enhancement consultant who will review the current SA protocols, research emerging best practices and revise protocols, and provide clarity on the handling of sexual assault kits from time of collection to submittal to the state laboratory.

OVW’s Law Enforcement Working Group

Subscribe to Email Updates

To sign up for monthly updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your email address in the Subscribe box.