University of Michigan police create sexual assault unit

6 officers will handle assault, domestic violence, stalking, child abuse cases

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The University of Michigan Police Department has created a special victims unit to focus on sexual assault and related crimes on the Ann Arbor campus.

"The Special Victims Unit will be dedicated to responding to and investigating sexual assaults, domestic violence, stalking and child abuse," said Robert Neumann, UM 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."

The unit's launch coincides with April being Sexual Assault Prevention month.

"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."

Taylor Hummel and Kendal Rosalik are Michigan students who work at the sexual assault and prevention awareness center on campus. They say there are numerous cases of violence that go un reported.

"Sexual assault is prevalent on this campus, so it's important to have a resource like this," said Hummel, a senior. "You don't usually have a lot of power and control and it's a very hard process. So having people specifically helping survivors is going to make it easier to report."

To learn more about the unit, or to report a crime, visit DPSS.umich.edu.

To reach the unit by phone, call 734-763-3434.

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