FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
After meeting 10 times since February and requesting an extension to continue its work, the nine-member Sexual Assault Task Force presented its report to City Council today.
Appointed by City Council in January, the task force was charged with:
- Reviewing current city practices
- Researching best practices for prevention, reporting and investigation of sexual assault
- Reviewing/recommending training and education opportunities for first responders and service providers
- Considering and recommending need for a public education campaign
- Recommending ongoing plan to measure future progress.
The task force’s key findings and recommendations center around two goals that members believe will drive foundational change:
- Improve community awareness about sexual assault prevention, sexual assault reporting and victim rights
- Increase victim reporting and decrease victim fallout of the criminal justice system by improving the victim experience and improving outcomes for victims.
According to the presentation, foundational change is key to long-term success, and changing social norms is key to foundational change. The task force’s recommendations should drive foundational change, although gaps will remain and recommendations are not all encompassing.
- Appoint a qualified team to conduct a gaps analysis of sexual assault data collected within the private and public sectors and to conduct a community survey on attitudes and norms about sexual assault/sexual violence in Springfield.
- Based on the data analysis and community survey, develop and implement a community education and awareness campaign to improve Springfield-area social norms regarding sexual violence.
- Collaborate to create a Springfield/Greene County integrated sexual violence court and implement ongoing educational opportunities about victims and trauma-centered practices.
- The City of Springfield should continue to explore and pursue potential funding sources so that additional victim advocates can be embedded within the Springfield Police Department to ensure that victims understand the process and their options and that victim rights are upheld throughout a trauma-informed, victim-centered process.
- Springfield City Council should include sexual assault initiatives as part of the its annual legislative priorities that are taken forward to the Missouri legislature each year.
Sexual Assault Task Force Members
- Lisa Farmer, Harmony House
- Sharon Alexander, Legal Services of Southern Missouri
- Sara Bargo, Me Too
- Brandi Bartel, The Victim Center
- Phyllis Ferguson, Mayor Pro Tem
- Jan Fisk, City Council member
- Dee Ogilvy, National Organization of Women, Southwest Missouri Chapter
- Linda Saturno, Child Advocacy Center
- Janice Thompson Gehrke, community representative.
For more information, please contact Cora Scott at 417-380-3352.