A federal grant will help make the Ashland Police Department's victim-friendly sexual assault reporting program available statewide.
APD officially launched its program to encourage sexual-assault victims to step forward in January.
The department received 13 reports of sexual assault from January through June 2012. Reports jumped to 21 through June of this year, said Deputy Police Chief Corey Falls.
APD had hoped for increased reporting of a crime that it says frequently goes unreported and often involves repeat perpetrators.
On Tuesday, the Ashland City Council unanimously authorized receipt of a federal Violence Against Women Act grant that came via the Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team.
Much of the $90,000 grant will go to APD.
APD will receive $46,031 to support its rape reporting program, pay a professional website designer to improve the program's "You Have Options" website, help fund its annual Southern Oregon Sexual Assault Symposium and develop a model that other jurisdictions in the state can adopt. "The concept is to make it go statewide and have agencies be able to adopt this program in their jurisdictions," Falls said.
Under APD's "You Have Options" campaign, victims don't have to decide right away whether they want to press charges.
They can go to Rogue Valley hospitals for free medical care. Trained personnel can collect evidence, emergency contraception is available and victims can be referred to support and advocacy services.
The campaign's website includes reporting information. Posters also have been put up around town, especially in restrooms.
The rest of the federal grant funding will pay for Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team work, as well as a Community Works victim advocate to work 16 hours a week in Ashland.
To receive the federal money, Ashland is required to contribute $12,500 toward sexual-assault response efforts.
The department will use money it receives when criminals forfeit assets, according to APD officials.
To access APD's "You Have Options" website, visit http://www.reportingoptions.org.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.