San Francisco law enforcement officials on Tuesday announced a new protocol for handling campus sexual assaults at universities in the city that is intended to make it simpler for victims to report incidents and get help.
Speaking at the University of San Francisco, District Attorney George Gascon and police Chief Greg Suhr said police and prosecutors are signing memorandums of understanding with universities and the San Francisco-based Trauma Recovery Center, spelling out how reports of sexual assaults on campus will be handled.
The agreements will encourage cooperation and collaboration between campus officials and law enforcement, improve reporting and investigation of sexual assaults and make sure that victims get the services they need, city officials said.
Gascon cited surveys suggesting as many as one in four female college students experience some form of sexual assault, and called the problem an "ugly little secret" on college campuses.
"The rate of victimization on college campuses is appalling and it has to stop," he said.
Suhr said that under the protocol, victims would have a single point of contact to guide them through the process. Police would collect evidence, but confidentiality would be "sacrosanct" and the decision on whether to prosecute would remain in the victim's hands.
"It's so important that any survivor feels confident reporting and knows that they can drive how the prosecution will happen," Suhr said.
The agreements with universities are based on a model memorandum of understanding released by State Attorney General Kamala Harris in May.
University of California at San Francisco interim police Chief Mike Denson launched the process locally and his department is the first to sign, but others are in the works and are expected to be finalized shortly, city officials said.
In conjunction with the new protocols, Supervisor Jane Kim on Tuesday also announced legislation creating the Safer Schools Sexual Assault Task Force, which will analyze and report back on best practices for preventing violence on campus and will recommend policy changes and legislation as needed.