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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
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:
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:
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.
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:
A few current OVW- funded police departments serving sexual assault victims include, but are not limited to, the following:
OVW’s Law Enforcement Working Group
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