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Home > Press Page

Monday, March 16, 2015Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Monday that his office will begin offering a training course to college first responders to improve the response to sexual assaults on campus.

The initiative follows a survey the Sheriff’s Office conducted late last year of 2-year and 4-year colleges in Cook County. The survey, which garnered a response rate above 60 percent, showed that far fewer student victims are coming forward to report assaults than could be expected. Experts believe that a properly trained staff can help improve the overall college atmosphere toward sexual assault, leading to more victims coming forward and more incidents being investigated.

“We must work together to ensure that students who are sexually assaulted feel safe coming forward,” Dart said. “Without that first step, we cannot start to eradicate this danger on college campuses.”

The survey found most colleges would welcome such training and would send staff. The Sheriff’s Office has begun reaching out to colleges to seek input as the training is launched. The training will be first offered to campus police and security personnel and focus on the dynamics of sexual assault, victim support and how to hand off cases to investigators.

Registration will start this month out of the Sheriff’s Police Department Training Academy.

The 45-question, anonymous survey was sent to 46 colleges in Cook County and 30 responded. The survey covered all aspects of a colleges’ response to assaults, from policy and procedures to training and education. Among the results:

Sheriff Dart has invited colleges to participate as his office draws up the curriculum for training he plans to begin offering in the coming weeks to college first-responders.

Almost universally, responding institutions said they would welcome the opportunity for more training for their staff and security personnel to identify sexual assaults and properly respond to them. Such training will help improve the campus environment and likely lead to more victims coming forward, fewer broken lives and more accountability.

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