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President Napolitano, state attorney general announce collaboration on sexual assault prevention, response efforts

UC President Janet Napolitano and California Attorney General Kamala Harris on May 13 unveiled a new toolkit for California law enforcement agencies and higher education institutions to improve collaboration and transparency on campus sexual assault prevention and response.

The toolkit will include a model memorandum of understanding (MOU) that can be adapted and used by California institutions of higher education and local law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction over those institutions. It also will include a resource guide explaining the provisions of the MOU and relevant laws and policies related to those provisions.

“A primary goal in our efforts at the University of California to prevent and respond to sexual violence and sexual assault has been to make sure law enforcement agencies are more fully engaged with us on this serious issue,” Napolitano said. “Working closely with Attorney General Kamala Harris and law enforcement agencies will help us build trust and ensure appropriate outcomes for criminal acts of sexual violence and assault.”

The tool kit was developed based on President Napolitano’s and Attorney General Harris’s strong, mutual sense that cooperation between higher education institutions and law enforcement could be further enhanced to improve the prevention of, and response to, sexual violence and sexual assault.

“California has some of the best colleges and universities in the world,” said Attorney General Harris. “But for far too many hard-working students, the dream of an education from a top school is upended by sexual violence. We must acknowledge these students’ value to our future and give them the respect and dignity they deserve as our next leaders. This model agreement will help break down silos between campuses and law enforcement agencies to provide sexual assault victims with the help they need and hold more perpetrators accountable.”

It was also developed to help higher education institutions and law enforcement better navigate the state and federal legal requirements that expect collaboration and information sharing between law enforcement and campuses in addressing sexual assault and other violent crimes.

“I am very pleased to have a well-thought-out guide suggesting how we can better assist survivors of sexual assaults on our college campuses while also complying with new legal requirements,” UCLA Police Chief James D. Herren said. “This toolkit gives us steps we can take to connect important resources as we pursue justice and work to eliminate this national problem.”

The attorney general’s office worked with the UC Office of the President, district attorney offices and police departments to develop the toolkit. The attorney general’s office also sought feedback from colleges and universities, police departments, district attorneys and community organizations before finalizing the documents.

The template MOU is available but not required if a campus already has agreements in place with local law enforcement that address collaboration and information sharing related to responding to sexual assault and other Part I violent crimes. It is designed so that it can be adapted by the parties to meet local needs, ensure consistency with existing agreements, or revisit preexisting agreements to reconcile any changes in law or practice.

The new toolkit builds on previous efforts at the University of California, overseen by the President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault. Formed by President Napolitano in June 2014, the task force has developed and helped implement systemwide recommendations to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual violence on UC campuses.

The recommendations include establishing a “CARE: Advocate Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Misconduct” at every campus with full-time trained staff, and launching a new systemwide website that serves as a user-friendly, one-stop portal for quick access to campus resources and important information.

Last year, the university also significantly broadened and clarified its policy against sexual violence and harassment, including domestic violence, stalking and date rape. UC adopted an affirmative consent standard that defines consent as unambiguous, voluntary, informed and revocable.

Even before the task force began its work, all 10 UC campuses had systems and programs in place to educate, prevent and respond to sexual violence, but practices varied from one campus to another. The task force’s recommendations aimed to strengthen existing services and programs and ensure the university has a consistent approach to addressing sexual violence on campuses.

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