Department of Public Safety

Understanding a DPS Response to Sexual Assault

We believe in empowering a victim of a crime to make their own decisions, considering all of their options. Your safety is paramount to us.

Filing a report of sexual assault with the Brown Department of Public Safety (DPS) does not require you to pursue criminal charges against your offender. We believe in empowering a victim of a crime to make their own decisions, considering all of their options. Your safety is paramount to us. The DPS can advise you of your options and can also preserve evidence while you consider your options. DPS staff can also advise you on safety planning techniques.  

Reporting to a Campus Life office (Counseling & Psychological Services, Office of Student Life or Health Services) does not constitute a subsequent notification to the Department of Public Safety in all cases.

Steps Involved with Reporting to the DPS

  • As a response to your report, a Campus Police Officer will be dispatched to your location to gather preliminary information and to render assistance. The Administrator on-call (AOC) will be notified and an on-call Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor will be offered. The SACC will be available to provide support and accompany you to the hospital to receive medical attention if you choose. Your physical health is paramount and you should consider seeking medical care. The DPS will offer transport to Health Services or the local hospital in an unmarked vehicle. 
  • DPS places much emphasis on minimizing the number of officers present during this preliminary interview process. The officer will ask you to provide details about what occurred, as well as information about your offender to the best of your ability, at a pace that you are comfortable with. An advocate can be available to accompany you during this process.
  • A DPS Detective will be available to assist you with any follow-up conducted by the Providence Police Department to interview you to obtain the details of the incident.
  • Your identity will be maintained in confidence. Although community advisories about the incident may be circulated in cases that present only a serious public safety risk, every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality and to respect the legitimate privacy concerns of all involved individuals. 
  • The DPS Investigations Unit, which includes detectives, will be assigned to the case. All members of the Unit have been trained extensively in the investigation of sexual offenses and the impact of the crime on the victim. They will approach each case in a sensitive manner and will be responsible for conducting any in-depth interviews with you. DPS Detectives will also notify the Providence Police Department Special Victims Unit as PPD is the prosecuting agency and facilitate communication with the victim.

All reports of Sexual Assault are handled with a great level of sensitivity and you may opt out of the process at any point. DPS response will vary on a case by case basis depending on the nature of the report (i.e. if the individual is reporting an assault that occurred several days or weeks prior and they are not in crisis or in need of immediate medical intervention).

Evidence Gathering

When reporting to DPS, you are not expected to make any critical decisions on the spot. However, the gathering and preserving of any available evidence is critical should you ever decide to pursue your case criminally. In the state of RI, there is no statute of limitations for filing criminal charges in 1st degree Sexual Assault cases. As a process of our response protocol, potential evidence available at the scene of the crime would be protected and preserved, if applicable. You have the option to have critical evidence gathered and preserved by undergoing a medical examination kit at the local hospital up to 96 hours after an assault. You are advised not to change clothes, shower, bathe, eat, or drink before this examination. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are available at most local hospitals, to include the Woman and Infants Hospital ER to administer this examination. 

There is no cost associated with this exam and having it administered does not require or obligate you to pursue any course of action.  Please ask your advocate about this option.

Your Safety

As a result of your experience, you may be feeling anxious and/or fearful.  We realize it may be difficult to move forward when you are feeling unsafe. You may have concerns about stalking or intimidation. If you have personal safety concerns, a DPS Law Enforcement Advocate is available to create a personal safety plan with you. This plan, created with your input, will outline options available to you that specifically address your residential and personal safety concerns, list all applicable support offices available to you at Brown and across RI, and all of your reporting options moving forward. Please call (401) 863-2542 for assistance or visit our Crime Victim Assistance page for more detailed information.

Public Safety Resources

DPS Detectives Unit  (401) 863-3412 or (401) 863-9956

DPS Detectives are on-call and are responsible for meeting with and interviewing victim/witnesses.  Detectives also offer case follow-up and assistance with pursuing criminal charges. If a case requires communication with another police agency, Brown Detectives will coordinate with external police departments to assist a victim.  Our detectives receive specialized training in the areas of sexual assault, trauma and domestic violence.

DPS Law Enforcement Advocate (401) 863-2542

A law enforcement advocate is available to provide victim advocacy and support to persons who report they have been a victim of a crime. Services available include individual and workplace safety planning, review of victim rights, court accompaniment, assistance with obtaining restraining orders, and referrals to external victim service providers as warranted.

Other Support Resources

Survivor Resource Guide: Help After Sexual Harm:

This interactive online guide provides Brown University students an overview of options for support, medical care, reporting an incident and other needs. Some options are time-sensitive. To access the Survivor Resource Guide visit or scan this QR code:

Day One, Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) (401) 421-4100, ext. 141

SART is a legal advocacy program intended to offer victims of sexual assault, age 14 years and older, with information and emotional support through their experience with the criminal justice system if they choose to file a criminal complaint.  All SART services are provided free of charge. If you would like to access these services, please contact the SART Case Manager.

Office of Student Life Support

The Department of Public Safety will often work collaboratively with the Office of Student Life (OSL) to support victims of crime. OSL provides crisis services 24 hours a day for undergraduate, graduate, and medical students who may be dealing with personal or family emergencies. Support services are available to students who have had an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking regardless of whether the complainant chooses to report the incident to campus police or local law enforcement. Through a Dean of the Day (business hours, (401) 863-3145) and Administrator-on-Call (evenings and weekends, (401) 863-4111) system, students can receive immediate support and resource information. The Office of Student Life can also contact faculty members when appropriate and at the request of a student. First-year students have the additional support of residential peer counselors and graduate student Community Directors for crisis support in their residential living areas.

The following types of Support are available upon request if reasonably available:

  • Academic Accommodations, including faculty notes, course load reduction, tuition adjustment, and graduation planning.
  • Living Accommodations, including dorm reassignment, off-campus housing permission, changes in meal plans, and access to parking permits.
  • Working Accommodations, including job changes (work assignments, shift scheduling, job location).

Protective Orders 

There are two types of protective orders.  A No Contact Order is related to a criminal charge and is issued at the time of an offender’s arraignment.  A No Contact Order is in effect for the entire length of the criminal case, including through the length of the sentence.  It can be dropped only at the request of the victim with the approval of a judge. Restraining orders (civil) can be sought whether or not there is a criminal case. Restraining orders can be issued when there has been physical or sexual abuse, threats of violence, harassment or stalking that leads someone to fear for their physical safety.

For students at Brown, No Communication/Contact Orders (NCO) are often initiated through the Office of Student Life.  These orders are not to be confused with state-issued protective orders. NCO's are temporary directives issued by the Office of Student Life prohibiting communication between or among designated students.  No Contact Orders (NCOs) are issued when, in the judgment of a Student Life dean, there is reason to believe that an order would be in the best interest of all parties and the community for promoting peace and civility.  NCO's do not become part of a student's conduct record unless he or she violates the order as determined by the student conduct system. NCOs prohibit all forms of communication between designated students, direct or indirect, written, electronic or through a third party. The duration of an NCO is determined by the Office of Student Life, and students may request to have an NCO lifted after an appropriate sustained period of compliance.

For more information about protective orders, please contact the DPS Special Victims Unit at (401) 863-2542 or the RI Restraining Order Office at (401) 458-3372.

Please contact DPS at (401) 863-2542 with any inquiries.