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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. 
Comprehensive Protocol for Sexual Assault Response: Cambria County, Pennsylvania

Cambria County, Pennsylvania offers a comprehensive sexual assault protocol which includes a well-designed procedure for anonymous reporting (for victims age 18 and over). This protocol is thoughtfully designed and crafted with meticulous attention to detail. It is also beautifully written, making it an excellent model for other communities seeking to implement a similar protocol in their community. The final document is a consent form for victims who report anonymously, authorizing the collection, documentation, and release of evidence (to be stored by the municipal police department). The form offers a brief explanation of key issues for victims, including the fact that they will not be billed for the exam, that their medical records will remain private, and that their evidence will be stored for 2 years. Victims can choose whether or not they would like to be contacted 3 weeks before the evidence will be destroyed. If so, the form documents their preference and various methods of contacting them.

IACP Sexual Assault Supplemental Report and Guidelines

These educational tools from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) consist of a supplemental report form and guidelines for investigative strategies designed to supplement the IACP Model Policy on Sexual Assault Investigations and the corresponding Concepts and Issues Paper (October, 2017).  The IACP also created the Sexual Assault Response Policy and Training Content Guidelines (2015), which provide law enforcement with issues, procedures, and recommendations to consider when developing a policy related to sexual assault as well as accompanying training content.

They are available in the section of the IACP website dedicated to Police Response to Violence Against Women. 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. These tools can also be used for anonymous reporting when victims are willing to provide information to law enforcement without identifying themselves or making an immediate decision about whether or not to participate in the investigation and prosecution of their sexual assault. (Note: These guidelines are not intended for use when the victim is a minor.)

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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