A “victim-centered” approach is part of Sen. Lauren Book’s vision for local sexual assault response teams that would be established under her new bill.
Book, a sexual assault survivor, started a foundation called Lauren’s Kids that offers help to abuse victims. Book has been an advocate on the issue during her time in the Florida Legislature. The Plantation Democrat has filed several bills this Session dealing with the issue.
This latest bill (SB 1530), heard and passed in the Appropriations Committee Wednesday, tasks local health departments with setting up sexual assault response teams. Alternatively, those offices can contract with another jurisdiction to set up a joint response team.
The teams would be comprised of nurses, victim advocates, law enforcement officials and prosecutors. Those teams would work to develop a stronger understanding of victimization and the positive effects of trauma-informed training, according to the bill’s analysis. The team would have oversight and assistance from the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.
The teams would set up uniform procedures and best practices for responding to a reported sexual assault. They would also publish an annual report containing information such as the number of sexual assaults reported and prosecuted, as well as the number of forensic medical examinations performed.
The Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC) would also establish standards for a training course for law enforcement officers that emphasizes a trauma-informed response to sexual assault cases.
The measure also touches on insurance claim disbursement in cases regarding a sexual assault victim and tasks the Attorney General’s office with reviewing requests for potential sexual assault prosecutions.
The bill is now ready for the Senate floor.
Democratic Rep. Tracie Davis and Republican Rep. Randy Fine are carrying the House version of the bill (HB 1189). That bill is ready for the House floor.