Organizations Teaming Up to Address Sexual Assaults
Written by Andrew-Rossi on April 3, 2017
Park County is working towards forming a specialized unit that aims to create a more thorough process for sexual assault investigations.
The Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART team, is a nationally recognized program that is being implemented in Park County. Police Chief Roy Eckert of Powell says the process was initiated in January, in response to the need for both investigating and preventing sexual assaults, as well as the need for education in the community on what is considered sexual assault.
Sexual assault investigation is much different from a normal criminal investigation, according to Eckert. A normal criminal investigation usually involves a victim, an investigative officer, a suspect, evidence, and then the court system. He says that in a sexual assault, however, more players are required. Added to the mix are specially trained sexual assault nurse examiners, as well as staff from Crisis Intervention Services to help the victim through the process.
Eckert says that with this many moving parts, it requires specific orchestration to make it function well, which is where a SART team becomes essential.
Eckert says the entities involved in the creation of the SART team are the Powell and Cody Police Departments, the Park County Sheriff’s Office, Powell Valley Hospital, West Park Hospital, Crisis Intervention Services, the Park County Attorney’s Office, and Northwest College. Eckert says currently the individuals involved in the process are the decision makers for each organization, until the team becomes operational.
Eckert adds that once the team is fully functioning, the acronym will add an R, becoming a Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team, which will pull in counselors, advocacy groups, therapists and others who will aid in the recovery of the assault survivor.