TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington announced the county's first Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART, Wednesday afternoon.
The Tippecanoe County SART is made up of a group of stakeholders in the county. Those include the prosecutor's office, Indiana State Police, Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department, Lafayette Police Department, West Lafayette Police Department, Purdue University Police Department, YWCA Victim Advocates, Franciscan Health Lafayette Center of Hope, IU Health Arnett Center of Hope, Purdue University CARE, Department of Child Services, TEAS, Lafayette Fire Department, West Lafayette Fire Department and Purdue University Fire Department.
The mission of this team is to ensure an effective, consistent, comprehensive and collaborative response to sex crimes. It aims to prioritize the needs of victims and bringing the person responsible to justice. The team will meet regularly to discuss how they can better achieve the group's mission.
Harrington said this is important collaboration, and that he hopes victims will feel comfortable coming forward to one of those entities about their assault.
"We can all work together to better provide services to the victims, and to keep our victims informed about where the cases are and the status of their case," he said.
Starting April 1st, victims will be able to track the whereabouts of their rape kit as part of a new statewide computer system. This way they will be able to follow their kit as it goes through law enforcement, crime labs and to prosecuting attorneys.
Leah Giorgini is the Senior Director of the YWCA of Greater Lafayette's Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention program. She said they are interested to see the impact of the new tracking system and how it helps victims stay on top of their case, should they decide to take it to court.
Ultimately, she wants people to know that there are people on the Sexual Assault Response Team that want to listen to them.
"We are here to stand up for you, we're here to listen to you, provide what it is that you want. Not what other people think you need," she said. "I hope that people seeing this message will start to feel as if there is some representation for them."