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Address Sexual Violence in MOUs Between Campuses and Law Enforcement

Alyssa Keehan, Esq.
November 2020
How to create a general campus safety memorandum of understanding and reduce the risk of sexual violence

Your college or university’s plan to reduce the risk of sexual violence must include building strong partnerships between administrators and local law enforcement. Create an agreement with law enforcement specifically tailored to campus sexual violence or include provisions on sexual violence in a general campus safety memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Specify three key things in the MOU.

1. Parties Involved

The MOU is between your institution and the local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction on or around campus.

To foster collaborative development of the MOU, ensure several internal stakeholders represent the agency and your institution.

  • Institutional representatives should include Administrators
  • Campus police departments or campus security offices
  • Title IX Coordinators

Agency representatives may include:

  • Local police
  • County sheriffs
  • State police

The MOU should designate people responsible for enforcing it. Get insight from a broad spectrum of the community by consulting with external stakeholders (such as prosecutors’ offices, campus and community sexual assault response teams and services, hospitals, and urgent care facilities) while developing the MOU.

2. Communication and Coordination of Response to Sexual Assault

Critical elements include:

  • Sensitive treatment of victims
  • Fair treatment of alleged offenders
  • Well-coordinated, thorough, unbiased investigations
  • Trauma-informed communication with victims and their families

Promote these elements by specifying in the MOU:

  • When and how parties plan to share data, trends, patterns, and research-informed strategies to prevent sexual assault
  • Which law enforcement body has jurisdiction for investigating crimes occurring on and off campus, and on property your institution owns and doesn’t own
  • How law enforcement will inform your institution about reports it receives involving students, faculty, and staff
  • The general time frame (days, weeks, or longer) local law enforcement needs to conduct a sexual assault investigation

3. Training

Each party should cross-train the other. For example:

  • Law enforcement can train the campus community on trauma-informed prevention, intervention, investigation, and response to sexual violence. Trainees may include campus police or security department, heads of student organizations, residence life personnel, athletic department officials, and other officials and student leaders responsible for safety. In addition to training, many agencies conduct listening sessions on campus to promote dialogue between the institution and law enforcement.
  • Officials on campus can train local law enforcement on federal and state requirements for sexual assault reporting, prevention, and response, including the Clery Act, the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, Title IX, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and privacy statutes or policies. Your institution should highlight campus resources such as reporting options and accommodations for sexual violence victims.

For more information on federal training requirements and training investigators, see Title IX and VAWA-Campus SaVE Act Resource Collection.

Additional Resources