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UT System releases sexual assault response blueprint

Researchers: 23 percent of female college students victims of sexual assault

SAN ANTONIO – A new groundbreaking sexual assault response plan has been released by the University of Texas System researchers and campus police.

The 170-page document, called "The Blueprint for Campus Police: Responding to Sexual Assault," was developed in collaboration with UT Austin's Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

UT System Police Director Michael Heidingsfield said the plan took about two years to develop and trains officers to better respond to reports of sexual assault.

"Having the opportunity to rely directly on the scientific and academic community to inform police practices is a rare and powerful foundation for action," Heidingsfield said in a news release.

UT System police have already begun using the blueprint to train more than 600 officers and investigators. The department serves more than 217,000 students on 14 academic and health institutions.

UT researchers say more than 23 percent of female college students are victims of sexual assault on or off campus. Yet, many are too afraid to report the crimes to police.

"The blueprint is proof that science can and should inform police practice," Chief Author Noel Busch-Armendariz said. "It is not simply about procedural changes, although policies are critical to the solution. The blueprint is also about shifting the culture in law enforcement's approach to sexual assault."

The blueprint addresses the role of alcohol and drugs, false allegations and domestic violence, among many other common factors in sexual assault cases. UT System officials say the plan is the latest proactive effort to curb sexual assault and create safer campuses, which allows campus police to seek justice for sexual assault crimes with care and compassion.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault and would like to report it, the UTSA Police Department's non-emergency number is 210-458-4242. UTSA Counseling Services Office can be reached by dialing 210-458-4140. After hours or during an emergency, contact the UTSA Police Department Dispatch at 210-458-4911. Dispatchers will then contact the on-call counselor.