UTC and CPD solidify partnership to solve campus sexual assaults - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UTC and CPD solidify partnership to solve campus sexual assaults

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Leaders at UTC, the City of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Police Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Thursday morning pledging to work together to solve, prevent and educate about sexual assaults of campus.

The goal is to strengthen a partnership to combat crime on campus, specifically sexual assault and domestic violence.

"The MOU helps clarify and solidify the roles and responsibilities of different agencies operating in each other's jurisdictions," said UTC Police Dept. Chief Robert Ratchford.

UTC earned $240,000 in grant money from the "Stop Violence Against Women Grant Program." They've used some of that money to hire a new, full-time sergeant for the department who will be committed to investigate and coordinate education and about crimes against women. He'll serve as a liaison between UTCPS and CPD.

Under Tennessee state law, UTCPS will be the lead agency for investigating alleged rapes and sexual assaults on UTC property. CPD will provide resources to help with the investigation and the victims of the crimes.

"Violence against women, sexual assault on campus, we are going to make those a priority," said Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher.

"My hope is that this makes all the difference in the world for individuals that need our help," said CPD Victim Services Coordinator Caroline Huffaker. "Nationally, what we know about sexual assaults is its one of the most under-reported crimes with around half of sexual assaults not being reported. So I definitely think that that is true across the nation as well as here in our own city and on the university's campus."

According to the annual TBI Campus Crime Report, the number of sexual offenses reported on Tennessee college campuses more than doubled over the last two years.

School officials said once the grant money runs out, they're committed to keep funding the newly-created sergeant's position.

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