What is a SART?
According to the VERA Institute of Justice (http://www.vera.org), a SART “is a multidisciplinary team of health care providers, law enforcement representatives, advocates, and other professionals who coordinate their actions to help ensure that victims of sexual assault are supported and perpetrators held accountable.”1
The New Orleans SART was created in direct response to the 2013 Consent Decree, entered into by the City of New Orleans, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).2 Traditionally, SARTs are composed of a small core group of responders (Law enforcement, District Attorneys, forensic nurse and advocates). When speaking with Amanda Tonkovich, of the New Orleans Family Justice Center (http://www.nofjc.org/) and coordinator of the NOLA SART, she pointed out our SART is unusual in that, in addition to those core members, it also includes a wide variety of community service providers, grassroots organizations, and other stakeholders, all committed to improving all aspects of the sexual assault response and supporting the NOPD SVU department to constitutionally and compassionately serve survivors of sexual assault.
The initial meetings of SART were devoted to targeting the goals of SART, and involved group-based Mapping and creating a Strategic Plan. These procedures allowed SART to not only identify the requirements of the Consent Decree, but other gaps as well. Since the formation of SART, team members have worked tirelessly to not only fulfill Consent Decree requirements, but to explore additional service programs, provide training in trauma-informed response, and advocate on behalf of survivors.