Sexual Assault Response Innovation: A Regionalized Task Force

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75 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 6, 2021

Clint Nichols
Clint Nichols
Chief of Police
Commerce City Police Department
Kim Messina
Kim Messina
Brighton/Commerce City Victim Services Manager
Brighton Police Department
Lisa Ingarfield
Lisa Ingarfield, PhD
Owner, Defi Consulting

Nearly all major municipal US policing agencies have dedicated sex crimes units, offering expert investigative assistance to victims of sexual violence. Many municipal policing agencies/county sheriff offices have fewer than 100 sworn officers, settling for general assignment detectives. Due to intense workloads and limited training resources, it’s unrealistic to expect detectives to become experts in sexual violence. The predictable result is less than optimal investigations, poor reporting experiences, and worse outcomes for victims. In 2016, the Commerce City, CO (CCPD), and Brighton, CO (BPD) police departments identified an innovative practice for sexual assault investigations: a joint sexual assault taskforce (SATF) working across jurisdictions to investigate sex crimes in a victim-centered manner. This taskforce model consolidates limited resources, enabling detectives to build expertise and conduct thorough investigations.

In considering this initiative, leadership at both agencies drew on the success of current partnerships to further develop the idea. This re-envisioning of how best to address sexual violence led the CCPD, supported by the BPD, to successfully apply for a grant through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Strategies for Policing Innovation program. Grant recipients partnered with a researcher to study the SATF efficacy. In the first operational year (2018), the SATF investigated 225 sexual assault cases, a 49% increase over the prior year for both agencies combined. Over 67 of those cases were presented for prosecution. The SATF was also approached by outside agencies to investigate officer-involved sexual assault cases due to conflicts of interest within the requesting agency.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Describe the challenges & successes of implementing a cross-jurisdictional Sexual Assault Task Force (SATF).
  • Recognize the benefits of embedding victim advocacy within the criminal justice system response.
  • Recognize the value of a well-developed case review process.
  • Identify the benefits of embedded qualified researchers.

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