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Forensic Compliance Resources

Note:  The information on this website is designed to:  (a) communicate the requirements of the Violence Against Women Act (as reauthorized in 2005 and 2013), and (b) offer recommended practices for implementation.  The goal is to highlight examples of communities striving to achieve a higher standard of the “spirit of the law,” rather than simply meeting the “letter of the law” for VAWA forensic compliance.  It is critically important that readers consult state laws and regulations, as well as local policies and protocols, because they may have additional requirements beyond those included in VAWA 2005 and VAWA 2013.  For more information specific to your state or territory, contact the STOP Grant Administrator or coalition of advocacy organizations providing services for sexual assault victims.  A listing is available from the website for the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. 
Ashland Police Department: "You Have Options" Program

The Ashland Police Department in Oregon recently launched a program called “You Have Options.” As of January 1, 2013, victims have the option of reporting their sexual assault in a variety of ways, including “Information Only,” “Partial Investigation,” and “Complete Investigation.” Basic information on these options can be found on the police department’s webpage, which links to an external website offering more extensive details on the program’s background and purpose, as well as related topics such as the medical forensic exam, the role of advocates, the process of an investigation, and reporting issues for male victims and victims under the age of 18. They have also developed a short video that poignantly depicts the need for such a program by highlighting the problem it was designed to address (i.e., skepticism of sexual assault reports and victim-blaming attitudes). The program offers an innovative and inspiring example for other law enforcement agencies to follow.

Webinar on Alternative Reporting Methods

There is an EVAWI webinar posted in our archives, on the topic of Alternative Reporting Methods. The webinar originally aired on November 5, 2009. The slides are also available for review. Discussion addressed three primary models of compliance with VAWA 2005, described as "no law enforcement involvement," "law enforcement storage only," and "anonymous reporting to law enforcement." The rationale for each model was presented, along with general characteristics, logistics to address, and any associated concerns.

IACP Supplemental Reporting Form and Guidelines

When victims are given the option to report anonymously and/or through a third party, it will be necessary to develop a form for them to use. One recommendation is to adapt the Supplemental Reporting Form developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). This form is also posted on the IACP website, along with corresponding guidelines for successfully investigating sexual assault cases. These tools are based upon national best practices regarding sexual assault investigations and were developed in collaboration with local, state, and federal law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates, medical, and forensic professionals. The goal is to support officers and departments in preparing sexual assault cases for successful prosecution through detailed case documentation and thorough investigations. (Note: These guidelines are not intended for use when the victim is a minor.)

Reporting Methods for Sexual Assault Cases

This OLTI training module provides guidance for officers and investigators on making the critical determination whether a sexual assault will be recorded with an official crime report or an informational report – and exploring the implications for subsequent criminal justice processing.

This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
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