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Protocols and Guidelines for Sexual Assault Response Teams

SART protocols/guidelines are agreements between agencies about the provision of sexual assault services and the roles and responsibilities of core responders. Ultimately, protocols provide a way for team members to institutionalize interagency expectations in order to maintain high quality, consistent responses over the long-term.

SART protocol development requires that each agency on the team customize their individual agency responses into an ideal multidisciplinary, coordinated response. The Minnesota Model Protocol Project uses a responsibility matrix to show distinct and interrelated responsibilities among team members as a catalyst to develop a SART protocol. Blank rows at the end of each section provide spaces for SARTs to add other tasks as SARTs evolve over time. 
 
When creating guidelines or protocols, teams should balance the need for structure and certainty with a system that allows for flexibility based on victims’ specific needs and case variables. For example, once policies are written, there could be legal or procedural repercussions when procedures are not followed, no matter how compelling the reason. To offset potential problems, some teams refrain from using the term protocol and write their policies as guidelines to minimize legal repercussions when policies are not followed.
 
Once team policies are established, many SARTs formalize the process through memoranda of understanding or agreement (MOU/MOA). MOUs/MOAs are important in the structuring of position/agency relationships.
 
Sample MOUs/MOAs are available online through the SAFE TA project’s library (see Program Administration: Memorandum of Understanding samples).
 
To submit a protocol or MOU from your SART, please contact us

Protocols from around the country, including statewide and local materials, are included below:

Statewide Protocols

Guidelines for Community Response to Sexual Assault in Alaska (9 pages, PDF) These guidelines from Alaska help communities develop a SART by providing information on team member roles, processes, suggested training, and protocol.

State of Arizona Recommended Guidelines for a Coordinated Community Response to Adult Sexual Assault (52 pages, PDF) The Guidelines are a resource to those who investigate and prosecute sexual assault crimes, as well as those who provide advocacy, healthcare, and mental health care to victims of sexual assault. The Guidelines are not mandated practices, and communities are encouraged to tailor these Guidelines to fit their particular needs and available resources. The ultimate goals of the Guidelines are to ensure victim safety, dignity, and informed decision-making; enhance community safety by holding perpetrators accountable; provide evidence-based best practice guidance on coordinated community response to sexual violence; and promote responsibility and accountability among all systems designed to respond to the crime of sexual assault.

Arkansas Healthcare Protocol Manual for Sexual Assault (155 pages, PDF) The purpose of this publication is to educate Arkansas healthcare professionals about responding to the needs of adult sexual assault victims. This manual was specifically designed as a guide for health care professionals who respond to victims of sexual assault.

California Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Manual (196 pages, PDF) The purpose of this manual is to inspire the development and enhancement of SARTs throughout California, and to provide organizational guidance for effective teams.

Colorado Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Protocol (49 pages, PDF) This guide is recommendations for healthcare providers responsible for conducting the medical forensic examination of pediatric, adolescent and adult sexual assault victims on the identification, collection and preservation of physical and biological evidence.

Guidelines and Strategic Plan for Delaware Department of Correction Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) (16 pages, PDF) The purpose of these guidelines is to provide standardized structure and implementation of a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) throughout the Delaware Department of Corrections.

Florida Council Against Sexual Violence SART Toolkit  (40 pages, PDF) The purpose of this toolkit is to provide users with a step by step guide for creating and maintaining a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) in the state of Florida.

Georgia SART 2021 Guide (195 pages, PDF) The purpose of this project is to outline a statewide, unified, consistent response to cases of sexual assault from law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, and victim service providers. The goals of the project include increases in (1) access to victim services, (2) offender accountability, and (3) knowledge and skills for victim services and the criminal justice system to appropriately respond to sexual assaults throughout the state of Georgia. 

Idaho Sexual Assault Response Guidelines (59 pages, PDF) These guidelines were put together in an effort to provide a uniform response to sexual assault statewide, and to provide a model for best practices in a multidisciplinary response to sexual assault, with a goal of creating guidelines for a trauma informed and victim centered response to sexual assault in Idaho.

Indiana Sexual Assault Response Teams: Coordinating Our Response to Sexual Assault (57 pages, PDF) This guide has been prepared by the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault (ICESA) with input from the Indiana Statewide SART Advisory Council and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) to create a useful reference for Indiana SARTs that will be updated annually.

Iowa Sexual Assault Protocol: A Guide to Providing Medical Forensic Exams (65 pages, PDF) This document is intended to provide guidance and recommendations of practice for medical care and Sexual Assault Response Teams who provide care to patients who report sexual assault. 

Developing a Sexual Assault Response Team: A Resource Guide for Kentucky Communities (22 pages, PDF) It was designed for rape crisis centers, health care providers, and other community agencies in Kentucky that are interested in starting SART programs, and it has been used extensively on a national level.

Maine Facilitating SARTS (webpage) This landing page hosts a selection of SART related PDF guides and protocols relevant in the state of Maine.

Maryland Survivor Notification Protocol  (26 pages, PDF) The goal of this document is two-fold: 1) that all survivors will have access to their case information, if desired, regardless of the amount of time that has passed and 2) that trauma-informed best practices regarding how sexual assault evidence kits testing is used moving forward. This Survivor Notification Protocol was developed to provide local law enforcement agencies and victim advocates with the framework to conduct survivor notifications in a trauma-informed and victim centered manner.

New Hampshire Sexual Assault: An Acute Care Protocol for Medical/Forensic Evaluation (113 pages, PDF) New Hampshire’s protocol focuses on medical/forensic evaluation as well as the state’s laws regarding sexual assault, reporting, and options for patients.

New Jersey Attorney General Standards for Providing Services to Victims of Sexual Assault (22 pages, PDF) This standards guide was developed with the intention of implementing a systematic focus on the needs and concerns of sexual assault victims in an effort to ensure the compassionate and sensitive delivery of services in a non-judgmental manner.

Best Practices in the North Carolina Criminal Justice Response to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Guidance for CCR/SART Response Protocols (25 pages, PDF) These CCR/SART response protocols are a set of agreed upon procedures for various agencies responding to domestic or sexual violence in North Carolina. These protocols outline an effective approach for meeting victims’ needs and holding offenders accountable and address the most efficient manner for agencies to collaborate with one another.

North Dakota Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Protocol (103 pages, PDF) The state of North Dakota’s protocol provides information about a number of different victim populations, including children, people in later life, men, people who identify as LGBT, victims with disabilities, and others. It also includes recommendations for law enforcement as well as medical personnel.

Ohio Protocol for Sexual Assault Forensic and Medical Examination (48 pages, PDF) The Ohio protocol covers adult and older adolescent sexual assault forensic and medical examination.

Oklahoma SART Handbook (110 pages, PDF)  This Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) handbook was developed to facilitate and support a collaborative, victim-centered approach to the prevention of and response to adolescent and adult sexual violence. Although there is still some reference to Oregon materials, this handbook has been edited by members of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s SART development team for use in Oklahoma. 

Oregon SATF Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Handbook (82 pages, PDF) This handbook discusses advocacy, law enforcement, medical, prosecutor, offender management, and forensic lab responses to sexual assault. This protocol also covers outreach and prevention.

Rhode Island Statewide Task Force to Address Adult Sexual Assault: A Model Protocol for Response to Sexual Assault Cases (32 pages, PDF) The primary objectives of this document are to establish best practice guidelines for the multi-disciplinary response to adult sexual assault cases, encourage first responders to facilitate access to immediate and comprehensive medical care to the sexual assault patient, support inclusive processes that minimize the trauma to the victim of sexual assault by responding in a compassionate, sensitive, and non-judgmental manner, and to hold offenders accountable by focusing on their behavior and actions.

2022 South Dakota Sexual Assault Response Team Toolkit and Protocol Guidelines (72 pages, PDF) This toolkit is meant to assist teams as they navigate the work of creating best practices and protocols for responding to sexual assault locally.

Tennessee Best Practice Guidelines For Sexual Assault Response Services (28 pages, PDF) This document has as one of its primary objectives the development of statewide policies and protocols for forensic rape exams, sexual assault reporting, and evidence collection and retention in sexual assault cases that hold perpetrators accountable and protect survivor safety, self-determination, and confidentiality.

An Introduction to SARTs in Texas (52 pages, PDF) This overview serves as a support to the SB476 SART law passed in Texas in 2021 to aid in the implementation of this new requirement. This guide acts as a resource for both sexual assault programs and allied partners in the movement. It is by no means exhaustive, and is simply meant to provide a starting point for communities that are forming their SARTs under the new law.

Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART): A Model Protocol for Virginia (118 pages, PDF) This protocol from Virginia provides guidance on creating a SART response, including model SART response charts. Relevant state statutes are also included.

 

City Protocols

Denver Sexual Assault Response Protocol (163 pages, PDF) Denver, Colorado’s protocol includes responses for law enforcement, medical personnel, community victim services, college campuses, prosecution, and sex offender management.

 

San Diego SART: Standards of Practice (81 pages, PDF) This guide outlines specific law enforcement roles and responsibilities to improve the provision of services to victims of sexual assault in San Diego by providing sensitive, efficient, interdisciplinary services, and accurate evidence collection to promote the apprehension  of perpetrators

 

County/Region Protocols

Cambria County Sexual Assault Protocol (44 pages, PDF) This protocol from Cambria County, Pennsylvania covers the roles of law enforcement officers, victim advocates, SANEs, and prosecutors. It also includes a protocol checklist and discusses each member’s role with regard to anonymous reporting.

Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department Sexual Assault Response Team Protocol (30 pages, Microsoft Word) This protocol from Miami-Dade County, Florida lays out the goals and structure of the SART as well as a timeline/process.

Red River Sexual Assault Response Team Protocol for Responding to Sexual Assault (70 pages, PDF) This protocol was developed by the Red River Sexual Assault Response Team in Cass County, North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota. It covers processes for health care providers, SANEs, victim advocates, law enforcement, and prosecution.

Sexual Assault Response Protocol, Region of Waterloo (70 pages, PDF) This protocol toolkit the Waterloo region in Ontario, Canada includes forms, information about sexual consent, a service provider self-assessment checklist, a flow chart of the criminal justice process, and more.

 

Tribal Protocols

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan Sexual Assault Response Team Policy & Protocol (26 pages, PDF) This protocol provides goals and a mission statement for a tribal SART in Michigan. The protocol includes a SART structure and processes for law enforcement officers, SANEs, and on-call advocates.

 

Additional Protocols

Best Practices in the Criminal Justice Response to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Guidance for CCR/SART Response Protocols (25 pages, PDF) This protocol was developed by the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It includes protocol best practices for sexual assault and domestic violence responses.

PREA Coordinated Response Protocol Template for Small Jails (15 pages, PDF) This sample SART protocol provides processes for jail staff members, PREA liaisons, advocates, SANEs, law enforcement investigators, and attorneys.

SAFE Protocol: Trans-Specific Annotation (4 pages, PDF) This guide from FORGE provides additional details on the trans-specific references in the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations.