Sexual Assault Awareness Center recognizes police

By Ed Brock

Teal-ribbon pins on blue police uniforms will be another reminder that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Representatives from the Clayton County, Riverdale and Forest Park police departments met Tuesday morning with members of the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Center in front of the old Clayton County courthouse in Jonesboro to receive the pins.

"We pin the police officers to show our support for them because they support us throughout the year," said SCSAC Director Jennifer Bivins.

The SCSAC gives the pins to law enforcement officers in Clayton, Henry and Fayette counties every year during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising public awareness about crimes like rape and child molestation.

It was the first time for all three officers to receive a pin. Her chief at the Riverdale Police Department told her it would be a good experience, Detective Lisa Presley said.

"This month brings sexual assaults more to the forefront, it brings it to more people's attention," Presley said. "Sexual assault is something that doesn't get a lot of limelight ? but it's important that people are aware of it and it gets talked about."

Shedding light on the crime helps the police do their job.

"It is probably good to increase awareness so people are not reluctant to come forward to report sexual assaults that are often perpetrated by people known to them," said Clayton County police Lt. Bill Putnam.

It helps the victims of those crimes as well.

"The people who have been assaulted will know they're not the only ones out there and they don't have to be ashamed," Forest Park police Sgt. Karen D. Henry said.

Already this month the SCSAC has held a motorcycle ride fund raiser, the "Jeans for Justice" fundraiser and pinned police officers in Henry and Fayette counties. The next event will be an Open Car Show at Clayton College and State University on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. that is also part of the college's anti-violence program "Crime Victims' Rights ? Fulfill the Promise."

There will be a "Lunch and Learn" program for service providers at Riverwoods Southern Regional Psychiatric Center on April 23. The final event will be the Free Fall in which "participants will pay a fee to sky dive as a way to take a 2-mile high stand against sexual violence."