The Houston Police Department launched an information line for sexual assault victims, the latest in a series of reforms in the investigation of sexual assault cases adopted in the wake of a multi-disciplinary research project involving Sam Houston State University.
The study was one of two funded by the National Institute of Justice to address the large number of untested sexual assault kits at police departments across the country and to develop strategies to improve the process for victims, law enforcement, advocates, hospitals, and prosecutors.
As a result of the study, the Houston Police Department has planned several new initiatives, such as providing specialized training opportunities to investigators and creating a new justice advocate position to serve as a bridge between investigators and sexual assault survivors.
Dr. William Wells“The new information line has the ability to reach a large number of victims who may have questions about the status of their cases,” said Dr. William Wells of the College of Criminal Justice. “HPD made an important commitment to ensuring that victims have control and have the ability to get updated information. We aren’t aware of any other department that has taken this type of broad-based approach to victim notification.”
The information line, which is available by phone or email, was created to give survivors of sexual assault a resource to contact the Houston Police Department about their cases. The information line will be staffed by personnel trained in crisis counseling to ensure callers receive services and additional resources.
“The Houston Police Department is committed to assisting survivors of sexual assault by developing a victim-centered approach to these types of investigations,” said Special Crimes Division Captain J. Evans. “The information line is a resource for survivors. Sexual assault is about removing power and control from victims and this system puts the victim back in control.”
The information line is designed to serve as a point of contact that victims can use to obtain information about their cases. The information line is available to survivors from cases dating back to the 1980s to the present.
The Sexual Assault Information Line can be reach Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. During evening and weekend hours, voice mail will available to leave a message. Inquiries also can be made via email at SAinfo@houstonpolice.org