Ann Arbor police creates unit to help sex assault survivors

The Ann Arbor Police Department is boosting support for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence by launching a new investigative unit, where detectives are dedicated and trained to help survivors.

"We're just really going to try to interact with the community more and be much more responsive to what it needs," said Ann Arbor Police Deputy Chief Aimee Metzger.

Metzger says she's proud of the new special victims unit her department has formed to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

"When you come here, we're going to believe your story, and we want to hear it and we want to hear what happened to you and our goal is to help you through the entire process," she said.

Metzger says a sergeant and four detectives make up the SVU that was formed about six months ago, covering more than 60 cases last month alone.

"Interpersonal violence is real and it's in every community and it's a lot of work," she said.

Nationally the numbers are staggering. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. Survivors need specialized support. Too often, Metzger says victims feel like law enforcement officials don't believe them.

Metzer says research shows victims of trauma can have trouble remembering timelines and other important details of their assaults. Now specially trained detectives are working with those survivors.

The public safety department at U of M also has its own SVU and the two departments work closely together. The department is also partnering with non-profits that serve victim of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Metzger says it's a comprehensive approach to meet their needs and help them through the sometimes complicated legal process and offer resources along the way.

"There's a lot we can do for you - if you don't know where to go, absolutely come here," she said.