TIPS TO PREVENT GENERAL CRIME:
The following are some things each person can do to reduce chances of becoming a victim of a crime:
- Mark or engrave all valuables (including textbooks), and keep a record of these in a safe place. Include their make, model, and serial numbers whenever possible. A good way to do this is by taking photographs of the items and the serial numbers and storing them both on your cell phone and in the cloud so they can be easily retrieved if needed.
- Lock the doors and windows to your office and your vehicle every time you leave. Do not leave valuables where they can be easily seen by someone passing by, even if it is just for a few minutes.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and of any strangers near you. If you are going to be involved in activities where you are unable to focus on your environment and what is going on around you (e.g., when playing games on a smart phone), do so with friends so you can help each other watch for dangerous situations. If someone is acting suspiciously near you, move away toward large groups and well-lit areas. If the person follows you and/or continues to act in a suspicious manner, consider challenging them or call 911 for assistance.
- Don’t leave valuables unattended in unlocked lockers, study areas, or classrooms.
- If you observe possible safety issues at NMSU, notify the Police Department immediately. If someone could get seriously injured, please call 911. If it isn’t that serious but needs to be addressed, call (575) 646-3311.
- Alcohol and drug use can reduce your ability to recognize a dangerous situation and your ability to defend yourself. If you are going to drink alcohol, do it legally, responsibly, in a safe place, and with people you can trust.
- If you ride a bicycle, follow the specific tips for Bicycle Security.
It is unfortunately, but many people, even in the 21st Century, tend to blame the rape victim, rather than the criminal. Most of these people forget that many victims of rape are children, with the suspects either members of their family or friends of their family. Clearly, the kids are not “asking for it”. However, add just a few years to the victim, and some people start to make excuses for the criminal behavior, blaming a person’s clothing, consumption of alcohol, location, or whatever else makes it easy to believe that the same thing won’t happen to them because they “know better”, instead of blaming the CRIMINAL for what is a very serious CRIME. Here are some additional points and tips on this subject:
- Remember, when it comes to sexual activity, “No” means “NO!” Consent should never be assumed or inferred, and can be withdrawn at any time.
- Use of threats, intimidation, or coercion automatically negate “consent”.
- A person who is intoxicated, drugged, or incapable of giving knowing/informed consent is just that – incapable of giving consent. Any sexual act done to them while in this state is a crime.
- If you suspect that someone is in immediate physical danger or distress, contact police immediately by calling 911.
- If you overhear someone trying to coerce another person into sexual activity, such as through the use of threats to expose videos, photos, or embarrassing information, call police immediately.
- If you believe a person is setting someone up for a sexual assault, help the victim get away, get others in the area to help, or call police. You can make a difference.
- If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, know there are people who care and resources available to help. These include, but are not limited to:
NMSU Police Department Victim Services Unit (575-646-3311)
La Pinon Sexual Assault Recovery Services of Southern NM (575-526-3437)
La Casa Inc. Domestic Violence Shelter (575-526-2819)
NMSU Office of Institutional Equity (575-646-3635)
If you still aren’t clear on the issue of consent, watch this video and it will help you understand it better. (Adult language/content)
IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF A CRIME:
If you are the victim of a crime, whether while on campus or off campus, or experience a fire or medical emergency, you are encouraged to report it immediately by calling 911. For non-emergencies taking place on campus, call (575) 646-3311. When you call, give your name, the location you are calling from, a brief description of what occurred, and whether there is still a danger present (e.g., the person who committed the crime is still nearby). Prompt reporting and specific information will increase the chances of solving your case. A police officer will be dispatched to meet with you and obtain all of the necessary information. Here are some guidelines regarding preserving evidence while you wait for an officer:
- If evidence from the crime is still intact, try not to move or destroy it. This includes avoiding trying to clean up the area, moving or throwing away items, or wiping down surfaces.
- If there are text messages, e-mails, voice mails, or other electronic evidence, preserve the original (if possible) or make a copy/screenshot (if the original might be deleted, such as with Snapchat and similar programs) and provide this evidence to the police officer who responds;
- If you are being harassed or stalked, keep a log of any contact or sightings you have of the suspect, to include any third-party contacts where the suspect uses someone else to contact you or monitor your activities, as well as any contacts you receive off campus;
- If you are the victim of a sexual assault, avoid showering, changing clothes, or grooming, as these can destroy evidence. Protect any bedding or towels, clothes you were wearing, or other items where evidence may have been left. If possible, avoid the use of the bathroom, and consider getting a SANE Exam (described below) as soon as possible to identify and collect evidence that may be on your body. The first few hours are the most critical, but useful evidence can still be obtained 24 hours or more after some sexual assaults.
- If you chose to not report the crime immediately to police, you are still encouraged to write down as much as you can remember (when you are able) so that if you decide to report at a later time, you will have something to remind you of critical information. Try to include as many details about what happened, as well as everything you can remember about the suspect. Include things you saw, heard, and even smelled, tasted, or felt. Also try to write down things like other people who were around and might be witnesses, locations where different things happened, and any items that you have saved (such as text messages, e-mails, photos, phone messages, etc.) that might be relevant.
- If you are immediately contacting police, let officers gather the evidence. If you are not immediately notifying police, secure any possible evidence in separate clean paper bags or sheets to reduce the chances of contamination, loss, or destruction.
Even if you do not wish to file a police report right away, you may wish to preserve evidence using the above steps in case you later decide to contact police. This can help protect evidence that might assist later in the identification and/or prosecution of the person responsible for the crime. This can also preserve evidence you might want to use during an administrative hearing or civil lawsuit, should you choose either of those options.
Many students worry about reporting crimes to the police because they do not want to testify in a trial. Victims are nevertheless encouraged to at least contact the NMSU Police Department so they can be made aware of other services (counseling services, medical treatment, etc.) that might lessen the trauma of the incident. If the victim does not wish to pursue criminal charges, their wishes will be respected. Some of the most frequently accessed services include:
- SANE Exam: This is available through the La Piñon Rape Crisis Center, and is a medical exam that is designed to identify damage to your body as a result of a sexual assault so it can be treated. In addition, evidence of sexual assault can be identified and collected during this exam, and medical treatment can be provided (including prophylaxis to prevent disease). These exams are confidential, and are conducted by specially trained medical practitioners. You also have a right to have someone of your choosing with you during these exams. If you would like, a victim services advocate can accompany you and help with any questions you might have.
- Counseling: This service is available for students through the NMSU Aggie Health and Wellness Center, as well as a number of off-campus entities. The Aggie Health and Wellness Center does not charge for student counseling services, and services are confidential.
- Medical: In addition to the SANE exam, medical services are available on campus through the NMSU Aggie Health and Wellness Center. In addition, there are two medical centers in Las Cruces, and a large number of urgent care centers and clinics in the area. The medical centers have 24-hour emergency departments, and many of the urgent care centers and clinics have hours that extend into the evenings and on weekends.
- Protection Orders: While certain offices at the university can issue a “no contact” order against students or employees, such orders only apply on campus and might not apply to people not affiliated with the university. The NMSU Police Department’s Victim Services staff can assist victims of violence in obtaining “no contact” orders, as well as in obtaining temporary and permanent restraining orders from the state courts that will apply no matter where you might be, and no matter who the offender is. Victim services units with other law enforcement agencies offer similar
- Victim Services: This is a unit of the NMSU Police Department, and is staffed with a coordinator and advocates who can assist victims with connecting to any of the above resources, making academic or housing changes, getting protective orders through the courts, obtaining emergency food and shelter, applying for special VISA authorizations for citizens of other countries, etc. Victims do not need to file a police report in order to receive assistance from the Victim Services unit.
Students who are victims of crimes may also pursue recourse through either the Office of Institutional Equity or the NMSU Dean of Students. While these are not a substitute for the criminal justice system, they afford students the opportunity to have their side heard in a less formal environment. If an accused student is found to have violated the Student Social Code of Conduct (including engaging in forcible or non-forcible sex offenses or other violations), he or she may be subject to disciplinary action. The level of disciplinary action administered depends on the specific circumstances of the case, but can range from warnings and attendance at mandatory programs up to and including expulsion from NMSU. Both the victim and accused are afforded the same opportunities within the student judicial process, including the ability to have others present during disciplinary proceedings, and both will be informed of the outcome of any campus disciplinary proceedings alleging sexual assault. Students interested in this course of action may call the Dean of Students Office at (575) 646-1722, the office responsible for upholding the Student Social Code of Conduct. As always, students may also contact the Police Department for assistance and guidance.
Any NMSU officials who becomes aware that a person has been the victim of a sexual assault or other crime on the NMSU campus is encouraged to assist the person in notifying the police department if the victim so desires, or if the victim is unable to do so (e.g., due to physical or mental incapacitation). In no case will any university official discourage reporting of a crime to police when the victim wants to file a report.
In addition to police reports, victims of crimes identified under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), may file a complaint with the NMSU Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Institutional Equity. These crimes include sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
Here are steps victims of crimes should consider:
- Get to a safe place as soon as you can. If you are willing and able, you might want to speak with someone you trust and tell them what happened so they can assist you.
- If you are still in danger, call 911 to notify police and get help (whether on or off campus).
- Consider getting immediate professional support (e.g.: counseling, victim advocacy, medical services, etc.) to assist you in the crisis. If you are unsure of how to obtain assistance, you can contact the NMSU Police Department’s Victim Services Office at (575) 646-3311 at any time day or night, and you do not have to make a police report in order to be provided
- If you are on the East Mesa Campus during regular business hours, you may go to the DACC Vice President for Student Services Office for support and guidance. This is a confidential resource located at the Student Resources Building, Room 106.
- If you are the victim of a sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, you may file a complaint with the Title IX Coordinator in the NMSU Office of Institutional Equity (575-646-3635).
- If you have been injured, or are the victim of a sexual assault, immediate medical attention is encouraged.