TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) – A new bill signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis updates the state’s sexual assault team procedures and state membership requirements, and provides more support for rape crisis centers.
HB 1189 sets new requirements and support standards for rape response teams in Florida.
Going forward, the health department of each Florida county, or their designated representative, must participate in the sexual assault response team coordinated by a rape crisis center that serves the county or region, if one exists.
If a SART does not exist in a specific county, required by law certified rape crisis centers serving the area can coordinate with community partners to create a county or regional SART.
The new law also establishes requirements for membership in a SART, including:
- Must meet at least quarterly to coordinate a multidisciplinary response to sexual assault
- Develop written protocols to govern a team response to sexual assault
- Encourage and support the use of qualified sexual assault examiners who complete a minimum of 40 hours of specialized training for health care provision that informs of trauma and the collection of evidence in cases of sexual assault.
- A certified rape crisis center serving a county where an established SART, in collaboration with community partners, must determine membership in each SART
- If a SART serves multiple counties, members must include people from each county
- The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence should provide technical assistance related to the development of SARTs
The development of written protocols for a response team should include:
- Roles and responsibilities for each team member
- Procedures following the reporting of a sexual assault, including law enforcement and immediate crisis response, health care treatment for a sexual assault victim, follow-up services must be provided to a sexual assault victim
- Procedures must be in place for the preservation, safe storage, and destruction of evidence from a sexual assault proof kit, including how long it is stored, where it is stored, and establishing a chain of custody.
SART membership must include:
- The director of the center certified the rape crisis
- A representative from the county health department
- State Attorney
- The police chief for a county department
- The county sheriff
- A nurse legal examiner for sexual assault
- A representative from a hospital emergency department in the county or region
The law requires the Florida Department of Commission’s Training and Criminal Justice Standards Commission, along with the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, to create minimum standards for basic skills and continuing education for police officers, including a culturally responsive, informed response. shock. sexual assault.
Basically, FDLE will be required by law to have minimum standards for training officers to handle sexual assault investigations with victims, and sensitivity to the trauma of a sexual assault victim. Those standards must be set by July 1, 2022.
Also by July 1, 2022, every core skills course to be certified as a Florida law enforcement officer must include responsive culture, trauma information training for how to interview sexual assault victims and conduct investigations into sexual assault incidents.
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Officers who fail to complete the required training under these new standards must be placed on inactive status until the agencies work to notify the Commission that the training course has been completed.