Durham News

Durham Police improving service to victims of sexual assault

The Durham Police Department’s Special Victims Unit (SVU), in partnership with End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI), has launched the “Start By Believing” campaign to focus on better serving victims of sexual assault.

The purpose of this campaign is to change attitudes to sexual assault, augment resources, link sexual assault victims with resources and build positive relationships and partnerships with other agencies. The Police Department is the first department in North Carolina to participate in this campaign.

“Our department has always been committed to providing a professional, yet compassionate level of service to sexual assault victims,” Police Chief Joze Lopez said in a news release. “It is important that as a community we continue to bring forth awareness campaigns that will help victims feel safe in coming forward with any sexual assault victimization, knowing that the police will start the investigation by believing the victim.”

One of the first steps in this campaign has been for SVU investigators and employees of the Durham Crisis Response Center to provide additional training to officers about how to respond to sexual assault calls. The training has been given to patrol officers, investigators and commanders during the past month. Additional training sessions are planned for officers in specialized units.

The Police Department plans to partner with several agencies during this campaign.

The Police Department’s Special Victims Unit was formed in January 2012 and currently has one sergeant, one corporal and nine investigators. The unit handles cases involving sexual assault, child abuse and neglect and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC).