The Governor signed Senate Bill 424 which will give college and university police departments the authority to use “pretext phone calls” or recording devices like body-worn cameras during their investigations into serious crimes such as sexual assault, robbery, burglary, arson, theft and murder.
“Our college police provide front-line protection for three million students and employees in California,” said Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who introduced the bill. “College police need the same investigative and policing tools that virtually all other police entities in the state have the authority to use.”
Randy Burba, President of the California College and University Police Chiefs Association thanked Pan for introducing the bill.
“‘Pretext calls’ are critically important tools in eliciting admissions from the suspect, especially when you consider that in the vast majority of the cases the perpetrator is known to the victim,” Burba said.
Pretext phone calls are especially effective in sexual assault investigations, including drug-facilitated rapes. A pretext phone call is simply a tape-recorded phone conversation between the victim and the suspect to gather evidence.
SB 424 also authorizes the use of body-worn cameras, which would document encounters between campus police and the public in an effort to improve evidence collection, strengthen officer performance and accountability.
Nearly 20 percent of undergraduate women report attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college, while many more go unreported. Providing police with effective tools of justice will hopefully make other victims more comfortable coming forward and reporting an assault.
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