IACP Releases Guide on Addressing Sexual Offenses and Misconduct by Law Enforcement


July 6, 2011

Meredith Mays Ward


Alexandria, VA – Members of law enforcement are in a unique and visible position in the communities they serve. They are entrusted with the authority to enforce laws and protect the civil rights of citizens. Misconduct of any type tarnishes the bravery and dedicated public service demonstrated by the vast majority of the 800,000 law enforcement officers in the United States. Sexual offenses and misconduct implicating law enforcement represent a grave abuse of the authority the badge represents. It is imperative that executives prepare to proactively address and prevent officer misconduct through agency mission, policy, and training.

As a leadership organization with a history of addressing difficult issues in law enforcement including civil rights, racial profiling, immigration, and the use of force, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recently examined the problem of sexual offenses and misconduct by law enforcement and developed an Executive Guide to assist law enforcement executives in preventing and investigating such incidents. The guide, titled Addressing Sexual Offenses and Misconduct by Law Enforcement: Executive Guide promotes an understanding of the complexities of sexual offense and misconduct cases involving officers.

The Executive Guide, developed with the support of a multidisciplinary working group and the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), addresses criminal offenses as well as non-criminal sexual conduct that is inappropriate, unprofessional, and damaging to the public confidence in a department. The guide supports:

  • creating a culture of accountability
  • ensuring that training, including academy and field training officer curricula, addresses sexual misconduct to include criminal and non-criminal behavior
  • identifying and responding to warning signs
  • accepting and investigating all allegations
  • addressing allegations that are sustained

“Sexual misconduct by police officers, including the commission of a crime, causes widespread damage—first and foremost to the victim but also to the offending officer’s department,” stated IACP President Mark A. Marshall, Chief of the Smithfield, VA Police Department. “These crimes also severely damage the bond of trust between the department and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect. IACP strongly supports the approximately 800,000 law enforcement officers serving our nation’s communities, and in doing so, we believe it is essential to take aggressive leadership action – including dismissal and/or prosecution—when officers tarnish the badge by committing sexual offenses of any kind.”

“The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) commends the IACP for their leadership in developing protocols for responding to allegations of sexual misconduct committed by law enforcement,” said Susan B. Carbon, OVW Director. “The Addressing Sexual Offenses and Misconduct by Law Enforcement: Executive Guide is an important and critical tool for addressing sexual assault, a complex crime affecting every sector of our society regardless of gender, geographic location, race, occupation, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. OVW is committed, with our partners, to meet the needs of an incredibly diverse population of victims, prosecute offenders and work toward producing a shift in how we respond to sexual assault. This Guide is another important step in that direction,” she said.

The executive guide is available to law enforcement at no cost and can be accessed electronically at www.iacpresearch.org.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police is the world’s oldest and largest association of law enforcement executives. Founded in 1893, the IACP has more than 21,000 members in 100 countries.

The mission of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, is to provide federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. More information is available at www.ovw.usdoj.gov.


The International Association of Chiefs of Police
515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314