The Metropolitan Police Department Sex Assault Unit investigates sexual assaults involving victims ages 18 and older. (Sexual assaults involving juvenile victims are investigated by the Youth Investigations Branch.) The members of the Sex Assault Unit are specially trained in the investigation of sexual assault, and the detectives recognize and understand the sensitive, personal and invasive nature of sexual assault crimes. Sexual assault crimes are investigated with respect for the rights of the accused and the victim.
A victim specialist with the MPDC's Victim Services Unit works with the detectives, providing information, support and referrals to victims of sexual assault and their families during the investigation. The specialist also assists victims with the completion of the application for the Crime Victim Compensation Program.
The Sex Assault Unit is part of the Violent Crimes Branch, within the Superintendent of Detectives Division. A lieutenant and two sergeants supervise the Sex Assault Unit.
What to expect:
- When a dispatcher receives a call, a police officer is sent to the location of the reported incident.
- The police officer will ask the victims some questions about what happened.
- The police officer who responds to the scene will contact the Sex Assault Unit once an incident involving sexual assault has been reported.
- The investigation is transferred to the detective when the detective arrives at the scene.
- The detective will conduct a more detailed interview.
- The detective will also contact the Forensic Science Division to respond to the scene to collect evidence at the location of the crime.
- If necessary, the detective will arrange for the victim to be taken to the hospital for a forensic exam.
- A specially trained nurse will conduct the forensic exam.
It is important that you do not:
- Disturb the crime scene.
- Shower, bathe or wash.
- Change your clothes (if you have already changed clothes, place them in a paper bag for the detective).
- Eat, drink or smoke.
- Brush your teeth.
- Use the bathroom.
Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. It is always the fault of the assailant no matter what your relationship is to the assailant, what you were wearing or doing, or what drugs or alcohol you ingested prior to or at the time of the assault.
Members of the MPD's Sex Assault Unit take every report of sexual assault very seriously and investigate each case as fully as possible.
Start by Believing
Start by Believing is a public awareness campaign uniquely focused on the public response to sexual assault. Because a friend or family member is typically the first person a victim confides in after an assault, each individual’s personal reaction is the first step in a long path toward justice and healing. Knowing how to respond is critical—a negative response can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where perpetrators face zero consequences for their crimes.
Because rapists attack an average of six times, one failed response can equal five more victims. Start by Believing will lead the way toward stopping this cycle, by creating a positive community response, informing the public, uniting allies and supporters, and improving our personal reactions. The goal is to change the world, and outcomes for victims, one response at a time.
300 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 727-3700
Fax: (202) 727-3076
Please call before coming to the unit unless you have a scheduled appointment.