Sexual Assault, Harassment, Misconduct, Stalking, or Victim of a Crime
Sexual Assault, Harassment, Misconduct, or Stalking
Victim of a Crime
If you are the victim of a crime, whether while on campus or off campus, or experience a fire or medical emergency, you are encouraged to report it immediately by calling 911. For non-emergencies taking place on campus, call (575) 646-3311. When you call, give your name, the location you are calling from, a brief description of what occurred, and whether there is still a danger present (e.g., the person who committed the crime is still present). Prompt reporting and specific information will increase the chances of solving your case.
A police officer will be dispatched to meet with you and obtain all of the necessary information. Here are some guidelines regarding preserving evidence while you wait for an officer:
- If evidence from the crime is still intact, try not to move or destroy it. This includes avoiding trying to clean up the area, moving or throwing away items, or wiping down surfaces.
- If there are text messages, e-mails, voice mails, or other electronic evidence, preserve the original (if possible) or make a copy (if the original might be deleted, such as with Snapchat and similar programs) and provide this evidence to the police officer who responds;
- If you are being harassed or stalked, keep a log of any contact or sightings you have of the suspect, to include any third-party contacts where the suspect uses someone else to contact you or monitor your activities;
- If you are the victim of a sexual assault, avoid showering, changing clothes, or grooming, as these can destroy evidence. Protect any bedding or towels, clothes you were wearing, or other items where evidence may have been left.
- If possible, avoid the use of the bathroom, and consider getting a SANE Exam (described below) as soon as possible to identify and collect evidence that may be on your body. The first few hours are the most critical, but useful evidence can still be obtained 24 hours or more after some sexual assaults.
- If you chose to not report the crime immediately to police, you are still encouraged to write down as much as you can remember (when you are able to) so that if you decide to report at a later time, you will have something to remind you of critical details. Try to include as many details about what happened, as well as everything you can remember about the suspect. Include things you saw, heard, and even smelled, tasted, or felt. Also try to write down things like other people who were around and might be witnesses, locations where different things happened, and Even if you do not wish to file a police report right away, you may wish to preserve evidence using the above steps in case you later decide to contact police. This can help protect evidence that might assist later in the identification and/or prosecution of the person responsible for the crime. This can also preserve evidence you might want to use during an administrative hearing or civil lawsuit, should you choose either of those options.
Many students worry about reporting crimes to the police because they do not want to testify in a trial. Victims are nevertheless encouraged to at least contact the Las Cruces or the NMSU Police Department(s) so they can be made aware of other services (counseling services, medical treatment, etc.) that might lessen the trauma of the incident. If the victim does not wish to pursue criminal charges, their wishes will be respected. Any Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine employees who are approached by a person who has been the victim of a sexual assault or other crime on either the College or NMSU campus are required to assist the person in notifying the police department.
Some of the most frequently accessed services include:
- SANE Exam: This is available through the La Piñon Rape Crisis Center, and is a medical exam that is designed to identify damage to your body as a result of a sexual assault so it can be treated. In addition, evidence of sexual assault can be identified and collected during this exam. These exams are confidential, and are conducted by specially trained medical practitioners. You also have a right to have someone of your choosing with you during these exams. If you would like, a victim services advocate can accompany you and help with any questions you might have.
- Counseling: This service is available for students through the NMSU Counseling Center and the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine Health and Wellness Counselor located in the Office of Student Affairs, as well as a number of off-campus entities. Neither Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine or the NMSU Counseling Center issues a charge to students for services, and all services are confidential.
- Medical: In addition to the SANE exam, medical services are available on campus through the Campus Health Center. In addition, there are two medical centers in Las Cruces, and a large number of urgent care centers and clinics in the area. The medical centers have 24-hour emergency departments, and many of the urgent care centers and clinics have hours that extend into the evenings and on weekends.
- Protection Orders: While certain Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine officials can issue a “no contact” order against students or employees, such orders only apply on campus, and may only be helpful if the perpetrator of the crime is a student or employee. The NMSU Police Department’s Victim Services staff can assist victims of violence in obtaining temporary and permanent restraining orders from the state courts that will apply no matter where you might be, and no matter who the offender is. Victim services units with other police departments offer similar assistance.
- Victim Services: This is a unit that operates out of the NMSU Police Department, and is staffed with a coordinator and advocates who can assist with connecting to any of the above resources, making housing changes, getting protective orders through the courts, obtaining emergency food and shelter, etc. As mentioned above, victims do not need to file a police report in order to receive assistance from the Victim Services unit.