Frequently asked questions about the LAPD MOU
What is a MOU?
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is another term for a written agreement. The memorandum of agreement between Occidental and the LAPD sets forth how the College and LAPD will coordinate responses to crimes and provide training. Its purpose is to increase the transparency of the reporting process, enhance coordination between the College and local law enforcement, improve the response to campus sexual assault, and provide seamless support for victims of crime.
Why does the College need an MOU with the LAPD?
A college-law enforcement MOU is required by the California State Education Code; it also has been recommended as a best practice by the California Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, and the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault. (Some local campuses, including UCLA and Cal State Northridge, don’t have MOUs with the LAPD because they have their own police departments with sworn officers and the ability to conduct criminal investigations. Occidental Campus Safety officers are not sworn police officers). We also believe that everyone benefits when we establish and express our expectations about how the College and the LAPD will respond to major crimes, including sexual assault.
Who negotiated the MOU?
The agreement represents a collective effort of the Title IX Office, Campus Safety and the Dean of Students Office, overseen by the General Counsel. The model agreement developed by the California Attorney General’s office was an important reference point; we also received technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
What will change as a result of the MOU?
The MOU will not mean any changes to the College’s current sexual assault policies and procedures. Our expectation is that the MOU will facilitate greater collaboration between the College and the LAPD and improve the transparency of the reporting process, enhance coordination between reporting systems and improve our joint responses to sexual assault.
Does this mean all reports of sexual assault will be reported directly to the LAPD?
As described in the College’s current policy and as required by state law, all violent crimes, including sexual assault, are reported to local law enforcement. However, those reports are made without any personally identifying information, unless the survivor gives explicit permission to do so. The survivor has the right to decide whether or not to file a criminal complaint.
Won’t passing reports to the LAPD discourage survivors from coming forward?
The MOU incorporates current state and federal law that protects the privacy of victims of sexual assault and other crimes. When survivors make reports to Title IX office, they are informed about the College’s duty to report (omitting personally identifiable information), as well as the College’s willingness to support them in making a report to police, should they wish to do so. So far this has not proven an impediment to reporting. Unchanged is a survivor’s ability to speak confidentially with the College’s Survivor Advocate and other confidential resources (e.g., Emmons licensed therapists).
Can the MOU be changed?
The current agreement will remain in effect through Dec. 1, 2016, and will automatically be extended to Dec. 31, 2017 if neither side objects. Any future MOUs will be developed further based on the insights gained as the College and the LAPD work together under the current agreement.
Why did the negotiations take so long?
Though the negotiations between the two sides began more than two years ago, the College and LAPD needed to engage in an iterative process including multiple layers of review by the LAPD to agree upon a final version of the MOU.
Does the MOU address the demands made by students in November 2015?
It does not. Negotiations between the College and the LAPD began more than two years ago, and the focus of the discussions was primarily on improving the response to violent crimes including sexual assault and formalizing a mutual aid arrangement.