By Linh Nguyen
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has announced a new partnership with the San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco Department of Public Health and the San Francisco State University Police Department. They will work together to enhance the reporting and investigation of campus sexual assaults, violent crimes, and hate crimes, and improve support for survivors.
The Memorandum of Understanding will establish roles, procedures and practices across these agencies for responding to reports of sexual violence crimes and hate crimes, and ensuring survivors’ needs are met.
“Sexual violence is an underreported crime; too often survivors of sexual assault are reluctant to come forward and fear that their needs will not be centered,” District Attorney Chesa Boudin said.
Boudin added, “This partnership will help ensure that sexual assault survivors receive the trauma-informed support and services they need to heal. We are also pleased that this agreement establishes responses for campus hate crimes as well, as our office has been dedicated to preventing and responding to these crimes.”
The MOU outlines processes to establish procedures, communication and coordination between each agency in response to incidents of sexual violence, violent crimes and hate crimes. Victims may receive access to services like counseling, medical examinations and a free sexual assault forensic examination.
Regarding expanded access to victim services, the MOU provides a direct line of communication from the campus police department to the District Attorney’s Victim Services Division.
When a survivor reports these crimes, the campus police department will notify the SFDA Victim Services Division for linkage to medical services, therapy, victim compensation and community-based services.
Victims who choose not to file police reports may also receive support from SFDA Victim Advocates, which helps survivors navigate the court or campus disciplinary process by informing them of their legal rights, providing case updates and accompanying them to proceedings.
Regarding the MOU’s process for training and prevention, the SFSU police department will train the SFPD on the federal and state requirements regarding sexual assault prevention.
Community based organizations and rape counseling centers involved in campus disciplinary investigations will train the campus and city police departments on survivors’ rights, services for survivors in the community and strategies for preventing sexual assault and shifting social norms that perpetuate sexual violence.
The MOU is also concerned with prioritizing survivors’ privacy and dignity as well as utilizing trauma-informed responses to these crimes.
Neither the SFPD nor the SFSU Police Department will discourage or require victims to make criminal complaints or seek campus disciplinary action.
The MOU also protects particularly vulnerable groups, including undocumented individuals, who can be provided culturally and linguistically appropriate law enforcement services.
The agencies in the MOU will also collect and share data on the number of violent crimes, hate crimes and sexual assaults occurring each year and compare them to the baseline numbers from prior to the agreement.
They will also review feedback from victims to determine whether the process is serving their needs. This is designed to measure the efficacy of the agreement.
The District Attorney’s Office has previously partnered with seven other schools on the MOU agreement, including University of San Francisco, University of California San Francisco, UC Hastings School of Law, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, City College San Francisco, Academy of Art and Golden Gate University.
“I am looking forward to better serving survivors and meeting them where they are at,” said Reginald Parson, SFSU Assistant Vice President and Chief of Police.
“Going forward, all of the agencies will be cross-training each other so that we are all taking a trauma-informed approach when we interact with survivors,” he added.