Starting April 1, ASU police officers will wear special edition teal badges for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Teal is the official color of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The teal ribbons on each side of the state seal symbolize sexual violence prevention, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Katy Harris, the public information officer of ASU Police Department, said this initiative has never been done before.
“As far we know, ASU police would be the first department at a university to participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a teal patch,” she said.
Harris said it's important for survivors of sexual assault to speak out at any opportunity.
“If more survivors come forward the number of reported sexual assault cases will increase,” she said. “We share the goal of providing personal and professional responses to all victims.”
Harris said the money used to pay for the teal patches comes from ASU police's operational budget, which typically funds similar projects and is separate from the department's personnel budget.
Proceeds will go to Winged Hope, a non-profit organization that focuses on issues that arise because of child abuse and domestic violence.
Jessica Nicely, the co-founder and CEO of Winged Hope, said she still has to discuss with Thompson to figure out if the money will go solely toward sexual assault victims.
On April 1, our officers will start wearing a teal ASU police patch in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. pic.twitter.com/U5b6tHaYKk— ASU Police (@ASUPolice) March 28, 2017
ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson said he came up with the idea at the IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) conference last October in San Diego. He also said he encountered officers from California agencies wearing pink breast cancer awareness patches on their uniforms.
"Although raising money for fighting breast cancer is a noble cause, I felt that as a police department, especially at a university, we should focus more on issues that affect our community more frequently,” he said.
Thompson said he asked the vendor that makes the department’s badges if the teal ones had been done before. He said the answer was no, but the company was willing to work with him to make it happen.
"The patch is the same design as the original patch as far as what it contains with the exception of the teal ribbons on each side of the state seal,” Thompson said.
ASU police is the sponsor of the campaign. However, Thompson said he would like to see more sponsors join in on the initiative.
ASU is one of four universities in the nation with an SVU devoted to addressing sexual assault on campus. ASU police also provides a victim-centered approach to crimes of sexual violence.
The ASU police also provides Rape Aggression Defense systems self-defense courses for any female or male community member. The program is one of many to reduce sexual crimes on campuses and surrounding communities.
Brenda Lopez, a junior studying criminology and criminal justice, said the teal patch initiative will benefit many within the ASU community.
“I think it’s good that they are doing that, it shows that they care not only for ASU," Lopez said. "But for the community as a whole.”