Police Chief Recommends New Procedures for Reporting Sexual Discrimination and Assault at Universities

Whenever different law enforcement agencies are required to interact, it can be a confusing and often frustrating process as conflicting reports and overworked officers begin to step on each others toes. More importantly, if not done effectively, this can cause serious problems for victims being interviewed and keep criminals from being put behind bars.

Susan Riseling, the chief of police and associate vice chancellor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has some suggestions on how to improve the relationship between college police forces and other local law enforcement officials.

Specifically addressing Title XI, a portion of an amendment to the constitution that focuses on sexual discrimination and assault, Riseling believes there is more that could be done on campuses across the country to care for victims and make an impact on rape and other sex crimes.

In states like Wisconsin, state and federal law governing sexual assault require that in the case of a crime on a campus, both the police and the campus have to conduct independent investigations. Traumatized victims will find themselves interviewed repeatedly by different agencies, which can lead to undue and unnecessary stress.

Riseling recommends making sure that students have easy access to tools for reporting sexual assault, and that law enforcement officials be instructed on better methods of interacting with victims of sexual assault.

Much of this comes as a result of reform at the university after a list of safety tips published through the campus police department caused an uproar on campus. Students felt that the tips blamed victims, and the university began investigating how it deals with sexual assault as a result.

Since making the reforms, the university has seen a 400 percent increase in reporting of sexual assault, a huge success. Colleges across the country would do well to look into the reforms instituted by Riseling in Wisconsin and apply them to their own communities.

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