U-M Police Department launches Special Victims Unit to help reduce interpersonal violence on campus

Apr. 3, 2015

The University of Michigan Police Department has created a Special Victims Unit that is focused on reducing the incidence of sexual assault and related crimes on the Ann Arbor campus. The announcement comes during Sexual Assault Prevention month.

"The Special Victims Unit will be dedicated to responding to and investigating sexual assaults, domestic violence, stalking and child abuse," said Robert Neumann, U-M Ann Arbor's chief of police. "The SVU officers – two detectives, a community outreach officer, and three patrol officers – have expertise in working with survivors of interpersonal violence. They also will provide increased community education regarding risk reduction strategies."

With this SVU response, the U-M police officers are striving to increase the likelihood interpersonal violence crimes are reported to law enforcement, enhance the responses to the survivors and hold offenders accountable.

"These officers will incorporate specialized training on the effects traumatic incidents have on survivors," Neumann said. "Our SVU officers also understand research indicates many perpetrators of interpersonal violence often are repeat offenders. When possible, the officers will work with other local law enforcement agencies to help identify additional incidents that may have gone unreported or unsolved."

Officer Margie Pillsbury, a specially trained investigator with 22 years of law enforcement experience, will lead the unit.

"These crimes often are the most complex and difficult to handle due to the trauma experienced by victims and witnesses," Pillsbury said.

"Our trauma-informed approach will help ensure that the survivors are treated with compassion and respect while navigating the criminal justice system. UMPD is dedicated to ongoing training for all of its officers in best practices to enhance police response to these crimes and educate the community," she said.

The SVU will build on strong partnerships with community resources, such as U-M's Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, the U-M's Office for Institutional Equity and many units in the Division of Student Life.

"Not only will our officers connect victims and survivors with a variety of community resources,” Neumann said, "including medical assistance as well as accommodations for housing, academics, transportation and work, but we also will assist survivors in creating personal safety plans. We will continue to work with OIE staff, who conduct the U-M’s Title IX investigations, to enhance our coordination efforts. Additionally our officers will be conducting community education programs regarding risk reduction strategies."

The U-M Police Department is a unit of the university's Division of Public Safety and Security. For more information about the Special Victims Unit, visit www.dpss.umich.edu; for information about U-M's promotion this month of resources, see myumi.ch/6Q9j6; and the April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at www.nsvrc.org.

Contact: Diane Brown, DPSS Public Information Officer,
dianebr@umich.edu, 734-936-2323.