Policy: Special Victims Unit Protocols

PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to provide personnel in the Michigan State University Police Department (Department) with guidelines for responding to reports of relationship violence (INV11), sexual assault (INV16), child abuse (INV19), or other similar crimes to include: response protocols, investigation guidelines, victim support services, and collaboration with health and support service community partners.

POLICY

Policy Statement

It is the policy of the Department that all current State of Michigan and local model policies shall be used to provide resources and information related to relationship violence, sexual assault, child abuse and similar crime investigations.

This Department requires that these crimes be investigated using a trauma-informed and victim-centered approach.

DEFINITIONS

Trauma-informed and Victim-centered Approach

Trauma experienced by a person may cause them to feel confused and afraid.

Officers play a significant role in ensuring a person receives the appropriate medical attention and resources for emotional and psychological effects of the abuse.

Therefore, it is imperative that these cases are handled with a trauma-informed, victim-centered approach.

For child abuse cases, a specific protocol called Forensic Interviewing, in addition to a multi-disciplinary team approach, is utilized.

Special Victims Unit (SVU)

Special Victims Unit (SVU) is defined as a team of sworn personnel that investigates sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, harassment, child abuse, vulnerable adult abuse, hate crimes and missing persons’ cases. Members of the SVU have specialized training specific to this assignment.

The SVU Commander or designee shall be responsible for notifying the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) of these incidents.

SVU Investigators are assigned to the Investigative Division and that division commander or designee will determine if an investigator will be brought in for an SVU crime.

SVU Officers are team members in the Uniform Division and may be assigned by the Duty Supervisor and/or the Investigative Division Commander or designee as required in this policy.

Response Timing (required for Sexual Assault crimes only)

An immediate Uniform Division response occurs when an assault is dispatched that is reported within 120 hours (5 days) of the assault; which follows the best practice guideline for obtaining physical evidence.

A non-immediate response is defined as an incident that is reported more than 120 hours (5 days) after an assault has occurred.

PROCEDURES

Special Victims Unit (SVU)

An objective for SVU is to provide victims with a single-primary point of contact and to limit the number of times the victim recounts the incident to investigators.

Response

The 9-1-1 Dispatch Center will be advised of response procedures, but the Duty Supervisor should monitor the details of any calls for service involving sexual assault, relationship violence, child abuse or similar crimes being dispatched. In some situations, dispatch may contact a Duty Supervisor directly to determine the appropriate response.

SVU Response

It is an expectation that if a SVU team member is working, that officer shall respond to the call and take an original report.

If a member of the SVU team is not available:

All sworn officers have been trained in Trauma Informed Response and Interviewing and shall respond to take the report.

The Department expectation is that the Investigative Division Commander or designee is contacted for all immediate response cases that may require a SVU team member.

At the discretion of the Investigative Division Commander or designee, a SVU Investigator may also be called in based on perceived needs in the investigation.

Alert/Notification

When a public safety threat or similar condition exists to require an emergency alert or timely warning (ADM17), inform your supervisor immediately.

Initial information should be obtained from witnesses or victims to quickly facilitate these actions.

Determine if an immediate notification must be made to an external agency, i.e., Child Protective Services, Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, etc.

Upon arrival to an initial complaint of sexual assault, relationship violence, child abuse, or similar crimes; determine the following:

Interview and gather information from the person reporting the offense and other witnesses.

Identify the relationship of the alleged perpetrator to the person who is reporting the crime; and determine if there is any immediate threat of harm.

Crime Scene Investigator (CSI)

If a CSI trained officer is needed and not available, the Duty Supervisor should contact the Investigative Division Commander or designee to determine if a team member needs to be called in.

Evaluate the medical needs of the person and monitor the timing requirements for evidence collection involving trained medical personnel.

Incident Reports

A police report shall be completed.

The Department form titled “Special Victims Unit Options & Resources” is available on the Department’s technology site and shall be presented to the victim.

This action shall be documented in the police report under the heading “Resources Provided.”

Notify SVU via dedicated e-mail ███████████████

Coordinated Response with the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE)

The Department and OIE independently investigate complaints of sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, child abuse, relationship violence and sexual harassment. The Department investigates violations of criminal law. OIE investigates to determine whether there has been a violation of University policy. The investigations proceed concurrently, and the outcome of one investigation does not determine the outcome of the other investigation.

Mandatory Reporting Agent/Office

OIE is considered a “Mandatory Reporter” based on current University policy and is therefore required to report incidents of sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, child abuse, relationship violence and sexual harassment to the Department.

The Department is also considered a Mandatory Reporter. As a Mandatory Reporter, the Department shall also notify OIE of sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, child abuse, relationship violence and harassment incidents.

The SVU Commander or designee shall be responsible for notifying OIE of these incidents.

The Investigative Division Commander or designee shall review the records to ensure that these actions have been taken.

The Department shall provide all victims of sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, child abuse, relationship violence and harassment with information about the OIE investigation process, as well as information about available campus and community resources.