Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued groundbreaking Guidance to law enforcement, aimed at combating gender discrimination in how police address crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence. The Guidance articulates eight principles that police should follow to prevent discrimination against survivors, including: treating all victims with respect, investigating sexual assault and domestic violence complaints thoroughly, and acting upon all victims’ complaints. The Guidance will help law enforcement respond to victims’ needs effectively. It is time for law enforcement to demand accountability for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The Guidance is an important step in building on the progress achieved by the landmark Violence Against Women Act, which, among other things, provides funding and programs to enable law enforcement to respond effectively to crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence. Legal Momentum has played a leading role in drafting and passing VAWA and its several reauthorizations. We were honored to be present at the Justice Department this morning and to share our views on the importance of this Guidance, especially for women of color and women whose several identities (LGBT status, disability, poverty, immigration status) might make them reluctant to seek help from law enforcement.
Legal Momentum thanks the Department of Justice, the Office on Violence Against Women, the Civil Rights Division, and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services for including advocates at all levels in developing this Guidance, as we urged in a July 6, 2015 letter that was co-signed by Legal Momentum and scores of national and community advocacy organizations.
Lynn Hecht Schafran, Senior Vice President of Legal Momentum and Director of the National Judicial Education Program, said, “The new Guidance is a much-needed mandate for law enforcement education that presents accurate information about sexual assault and domestic violence and how to provide a trauma-informed response to victims.”
“The long, but ultimately very useful development process has shown that we have a common vision of how to move forward on these issues. We are looking forward to working with the DOJ, advocates, and law enforcement to implement the Guidance and improve law enforcement’s response to sexual and domestic violence” said Lisalyn Jacobs, Vice President for Government Relations at Legal Momentum, who participated in the panel discussion at the announcement of the Guidance this morning.
About Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women across the nation by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence, and equality under the law. Successful initiatives include drafting and helping to pass the Violence Against Women Act and its subsequent reauthorizations; judicial education programs on the realities of sexual assault, domestic violence, and their intersection; and representing women who have been subjected to discrimination with precedent-setting litigation. For more information, visit www.legalmomentum.org.