Last month, the Smithfield Police Department decided to join the conversation about sexual assault on college campuses by creating a page on their website detailing the resources that victims at Bryant University have available to them off campus.
The page includes a list of frequently asked questions regarding sexual assault on college campuses, laws and definitions of sexual assault, and links to other helpful articles and resources.
“We intend this page to be a resource for students about the services and support we can offer should they ever be affected by this crime,” said Detective Sergeant Gregg L. Catlow II. “It is also intended to dispel myths about police involvement in these cases and help them to make informed decisions.”
According to an article in The Valley Breeze by Melanie Thibeault, Smithfield Police Chief Richard St. Sauveur believes that students may feel reluctant to reach out for help in these circumstances, and that they may forget there is a local police department with resources available to them.
The page also reviews the many options a victim of sexual assault has. Often times, students do not report assaults for fear of losing control of the situation.
“We hope the main takeaways from this are that we can offer many forms of assistance, no matter if they decide to press charges or not,” said Catlow. “We also want them to know even if they get the police involved, they don’t lose control of how we proceed.”
It is largely believed that by alerting local police of a sexual assault, criminal charges will be pressed. This, however, is not the case. Pressing charges remains entirely up to the victim.
Not only does the Smithfield Police Department provide victims with help in proceeding, but they also set victims up with advocates from Day One Rhode Island. Day One helps victims with counseling and legal services.
The Smithfield Police Department is also encouraging past and present Bryant students to submit suggestions to make their page more helpful for victims by e-mailing Detective Sergeant Gregg L. Catlow II at firstname.lastname@example.org or Detective Douglas S. Cerce, Jr. at email@example.com.
The Smithfield Police Department is located on 215 Pleasant View Avenue in Smithfield, RI and can be reached 24/7 at 401-231-2500 of firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bryant University students have several other resources available to them including reporting their assault with Bryant’s Department of Public Safety who can be reached at 401-232-6911 or 401-232-6001. Victims who are not in immediate danger are also encouraged to call Women On Call, a group of trained staff members on call 24/7 to help victims of sexual assault, at 401-258-4209.
Additional resources include resident assistants, Counseling Services (401-232-6045), Health Services (401-232-6220), Campus Ministries (401-232-6712), and the Women’s Center (401-232-6855).