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Louisiana legislators propose several sexual assault policy bills

Legislative package comes from Orleans- area lawmakers

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  Police departments statewide — including those on college campuses — may soon be required to have comprehensive sexual assault policies and new training procedures to better identify sexual assault, collect evidence and interview victims. Bartenders, too, may soon have to receive sexual assault training to receive their Responsible Vendor permits.

  The policy changes are a part of a sexual assault legislative package from several local lawmakers, including state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans. Morrell's Senate Bill 37 creates a sexual assault awareness-training program for the Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training. The program will cover the neurobiological impacts of trauma and assault, sensitivity training and how to investigate assaults. Morrell's Senate Bill 242 requires statewide criminal justice agencies to report annually the number of sex crimes reported and investigated, as well as the number of rape kits collected.

  Following a controversial report from earlier this year revealing the failure of state and local police agencies to test their rape kit inventories, House Bill 289 from state Rep. Jerry Gisclair will require law enforcement to pick up rape kits at health care facilities within seven days and send kits for analysis within 30 days. Morrell also authored the Senate resolution to require sexual assault training for Responsible Vendor permits.

  Senate Bill 117 from state Sen. Gary Smith and House Bill 139 from state Rep. Valerie Hodges would reclassify Louisiana's criminal degrees of rape. Louisiana is the only state to use the term "simple rape" to define a rape in which the victim is inebriated or otherwise unable to give consent. The measures create first-, second- and third-degree rape classifications, as well as the crime of misdemeanor sexual battery.

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