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In this issue: History of SART, SART Highlights from 2015, and what to expect in future issues!
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Welcome to the SART Newsletter!

Welcome to the first edition of the New Orleans Sexual Assault Response Team's (SART) community newsletter! In this issue, we'd like to introduce you to the SART, an outline of SART's Strategic Plan, and Highlights from 2015!

In future Quarterly issues, we will continue to share important highlights and recent statistics with you, interviews with and profiles of various law enforcement professionals and SART members working towards accountability and compassionate and constitutional policing for all survivors of sexual assault, important conferences and events, and information for survivors.

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
 

NOLA SART

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.

 

1http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/consent/OCDM_Second_Quarterly_Report.pdf

2http://consentdecreemonitor.com

SART's Strategic Plan
  • Increase understanding among SART members of the role of each discipline and organization in interventions with victims and offenders;
  • Provide a streamlined, compassionate, and coordinated response to victims of sexual assault;
  • Create a Case Review Protocol for SART members to engage in assessment of strengths and weaknesses in systemic responses to sexual assault;
  • Increase community understanding among the public and allied organizations of effective responses to sexual assault;
  • Improve the skills of all SART members in addressing cases of sexual assault;
  • Expand access to services and improve criminal justice system responses for marginalized populations.
Highlights from 2015
The SART's inter-agency collaboration led to many accomplishments in 2015, including:
  • Statewide legislation that:
    • prohibits hospitals from refusing exams to victims or billing victims for exams
    • establishes one state entity to handle payment of rape kits
    • changes sex offense classification (from aggravated, forcible, and simple rape to 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree rape) 
    • every law enforcement agent must be trained on sexual assault, including the neurobiology of trauma and victim sensitivity, evidence collection and investigation methods, and federal and state victims rights laws
  • Training:
    • Over 30 prosecutors and 60 NOPD and campus officers were trained on trauma-informed prosecution and interviewing/investigation, respectively
  • NOPD Sex Crimes Unit:
    • Hired two civilian investigators and three social workers
    • 180 rape kit backlog will be tested at a private lab
    • NOPD will hold Case Summary Meetings with survivors to keep them apprised of status of case
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program:
    • Completed move to new hospital and conducted tours of new unit for over 30 community partners
    • Used donations to stock SANE unit with supplies, clothing, and comfort items for survivors
    • Implemented hotline to activate hospital advocates more efficiently and consistently 
  • Advocacy/Coordinated Response/ Accountability:
    • NOPD Sex Crimes Unit has been moved to the Family Justice Center
    • Created sexual assault survivor's guide
    • Multidisciplinary team meets regularly to review sexual assault cases being investigated by NOPD to ensure a thorough investigation and connecting survivor to resources
    • Implementing Greater New Orleans 24/7 sexual assault hotline coordinated by Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR)
    • Two survivors shared their stories at SART meetings
  • Outreach/Prevention:
    • Created a prevention committee and participated in community events including Take Back The Night and engaged students with "SART Selfies" and outreach/trainings at local universities
    • SART members participated in City Council meetings and community forums
    • Mayor held press conference to announce improvements to Sex Crimes Unit 
Contact NOLA SART: 
SARTNOLA@gmail.com
www.nolasart.org
24/7 crisis line: 504-866-9554