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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. 
Article on “Courtesy Reports” by Law Enforcement

In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, EVAWI developed a number of resources including this short article, entitled “The Need for Courtesy Reports by Law Enforcement: Sexual Assault in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina." Courtesy reports are taken by one law enforcement agency on behalf of another. They were used, for example, for the victims of Hurricane Katrina who were sexually assaulted in one community but reported the crime after evacuating to another. This document was designed to provide concrete assistance and address frequently asked questions. However, this is not just an issue of disaster response. Courtesy reports are commonly taken by law enforcement agencies that have a high volume of cases involving transient populations like tourists, students, or military personnel. There may now be a heightened need for courtesy reports in some communities, as they implement forensic compliance -- because it may be impossible to determine the jurisdiction of a sexual assault for victims who have a medical forensic examination conducted without talking with law enforcement. If a police report is filed or evidence stored by law enforcement, it may need to be handled as a courtesy report.

Cold Case Investigation Units

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) offers a SART Toolkit , providing resources for Sexual Assault Response Teams. In the section on Innovative Practices, information is provided on two programs for Cold Case Investigations, one at the Denver Police Department and another at the Dallas Police Department. Many of the issues related to cold case investigation pertain to forensic compliance, including questions of evidence storage, victim notification, and prosecuting cases after a long delay.

Collaboration Guide for Victim Services and Disability Organizations

In April 2011, the Vera Institute of Justice published a valuable new resource, entitled: “ Forging New Collaborations: A Guide for Rape Crisis, Domestic Violence, and Disability Organizations .” This 23-page resource is based on their work with over 40 collaborative teams across the nation who have received grants from the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). All of these collaborative teams included both victim services and disability organizations, and the guide includes ten essential elements to building and sustaining these collaborations -- as well as five common challenges they face. Any community implementing the spirit of forensic compliance will need to address issues of access for victims who have disabilities.

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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