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    March 2015

    Addressing Sexual Violence in MOUs Between Campuses and Law Enforcement

    photo: friendly police officer

    Building strong partnerships between administrators and local law enforcement agencies should be a key component of every institution’s plan to reduce the risk of sexual violence. The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault recently released a sample memorandum of understanding (MOU) to help institutions and law enforcement clarify their responsibilities in fighting campus sexual assault. UE recommends that members create an agreement with law enforcement specifically tailored to campus sexual violence or include provisions on sexual violence in a general campus safety MOU.

    An MOU to address sexual violence should specify:

    • Parties involved. The MOU is between the institution of higher education and the local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction on or around campus. To foster collaborative development of the MOU, the task force recommends that each be represented by several internal stakeholders. Institutions should be represented by administrators, campus police departments or campus security offices, and Title IX coordinators. The agency may include local police, county sheriffs, or state police. The MOU should designate the individuals responsible for enforcing it. To gain insights from a broad spectrum of the community, the parties may also consult with external stakeholders (e.g., prosecutors’ offices, campus and community sexual assault response teams and services, hospitals, and urgent care facilities) while developing the MOU.

    • Communication and coordination of response to sexual assault. Critical elements include:
      • Sensitive treatment of the victim
      • Fair treatment of the alleged offender
      • Well-coordinated, thorough, and unbiased investigation
      • Trauma-informed communication with victims and their families
      To promote these elements, the MOU should specify:
      • When and how the parties plan to share data, trends, patterns, and research-informed strategies to prevent sexual assault
      • Which law enforcement body has jurisdiction for investigating crimes occurring on campus and off campus, and on property owned and not owned by the institution
      • How law enforcement will inform the institution about reports it receives involving students, faculty, and staff
      • The general timeframe (days, weeks, or longer) needed by local law enforcement to conduct a sexual assault investigation
    • Training. The task force recommends that each party cross-train the other. For example:
      • Law enforcement can train the campus community on trauma-informed prevention, intervention, investigation, and response to sexual violence. Trainees may include the campus police or security department, the heads of student organizations, residence life personnel, athletic department officials, and other officials and student leaders with responsibility for safety. In addition to training, many agencies also conduct listening sessions on campus to promote dialogue between the institution and law enforcement.
      • Officials on campus can train local law enforcement on federal and state requirements for sexual assault reporting, prevention, and response, including the Clery Act, Campus SaVE Act, Title IX, FERPA, and privacy statutes or policies. Institutions should highlight campus resources, such as reporting options and accommodations for sexual violence victims.
      • All parties should consider joint community outreach with special attention to responsible corporate citizenship of businesses that sell alcohol.

    For more information on federal training requirements and training investigators, please see Title IX and Campus SaVE Act Resources.


    Resources

    University of Oregon MOU: Sharing Information Regarding Sex Offenses
    University of Kansas MOU with the City of Lawrence
    Wesleyan University MOU
    D. Stafford & Associates Sample MOU

    By Joe Vossen, JD, associate risk management counsel


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