Law enforcement, colleges must work together

A survey of four-year colleges and universities finds a lack of coordination between many campuses and local law enforcement in handling sexual assaults, and that many schools have gone years without investigating such cases, according to an Associated Press story published Sunday (July 13) in the Daily News.

A former prosecutor and now U.S. senator, whose office conducted the survey, said parents and taxpayers should be concerned.

We agree.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is part of a group looking at ways to address the issue legislatively, including simplifying laws and rules colleges and universities follow and finding ways that campuses and local authorities can better coordinate.

In most cases, the players are already in place, but communication between them, for a variety of reasons, is lacking or not clear.

About 40 percent of schools reported having sworn law enforcement officers on campus while many others rely on private security or local authorities. Alarmingly, 30 percent of survey respondents said campus police and security guards aren’t required by law or institutional policy to be trained to respond to reports of sexual violence. And, 75 percent of the colleges and universities surveyed said they have no written protocol between campus and local authorities for handling such cases.

Federal law requires every institution that knows about a sexual violence incident to investigate, McCaskill said, and they should – even if the end result is that the victim isn’t participating and there’s no corroboration.

While it appears colleges and universities are now under scrutiny for what they do – or don’t do – when it comes to sexual assault complaints, we also urge local law enforcement agencies to step forward, contact school officials and ask what they can do to help local campuses with training and protocol in sexual assault complaints.

– Midland Daily News