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How would you rename a police department's Sexual Assault Unit?
October 4, 2006 5:58 PM   Subscribe

What would you rename a police department's Sexual Assault Unit?

(other than Special Victim's Unit). The purpose would be to offer more confidentiality to victims by not hightlighting the crime itself in the name. Detectives could leave cards, phone messages, correspondence etc. for victims without advertising the issue at hand,
posted by InkaLomax to Law & Government (29 answers total)
 
Some places use "sensitive crimes unit".
posted by mr_roboto at 6:04 PM on October 4, 2006


While I understand the sentiment, I would worry about not only the doublespeak-esque implications of renaming the unit, but also trivializing the matter by giving it a less 'honest' and powerful name.
posted by oxford blue at 6:05 PM on October 4, 2006


"Crimes Against Persons Unit"
posted by orthogonality at 6:05 PM on October 4, 2006


You could go totally anonymous and just give it a number - "Crimes Unit 15".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:05 PM on October 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


I like the number idea.

Any double-talk you come up with will soon become known as the doubletalk for sexual assault. It's kind of pointless.

If the purpose is to provide confidentiality, then why not leave the name, but have people's cards etc. not mention which unit they belong to?
posted by joannemerriam at 6:12 PM on October 4, 2006


Seriously? Come on! Special Victims Unit.
posted by viachicago at 6:35 PM on October 4, 2006


I think that the best solution is to simply have the cards say, "Patrolman John Doe, Somecity Police Deparment." As others have suggested, the name's either going to be so horribly vague that no one gets it, or you're just going to invent new slang for sexual assaults. (And "Police Unit 14" brings to mind "secret police," which is obviously not a good way to go...)

Besides, even if you picked the best name, it'd be in the papers the next day, and then people would see a card from the "Sensitive Crimes Unit" and think, "Sexual Assault Unit." (Worse yet, the "Sensitive Crimes Unit" would investigate something less-serious than rape, and everyone would assume that someone with a card from them was a rape victim.)

If you just want a 'euphemism,' I like the sound of Sensitive Crimes Unit. But otherwise, I recommend keeping the name, or just identifying yourself as a plain ol' police officer.
posted by fogster at 6:52 PM on October 4, 2006


I agree with the original questioner's desire for discretion, and also agree that "special victim's" is Hollywood-esque.

You want something completely neutral, but one that lets people know they can receive a different level of treatment than, say, a traffic cop will give them.

There are bonus points here for the officer's themselves, that they're reminded that they're not just issuing speeding tickets.

So...

Special Operations
Special Investigations
posted by frogan at 6:54 PM on October 4, 2006


What the others have said, but also ... "Sexual Assault Unit"? I get it, but my gut reaction to that is not a good one ... it's like, would you call Vice the "Drug Dealing Unit"?
posted by spaceman_spiff at 7:14 PM on October 4, 2006


"What the others have said, but also ... "Sexual Assault Unit"? I get it, but my gut reaction to that is not a good one ... it's like, would you call Vice the "Drug Dealing Unit"?"


I don't belive the two are analogous in the way you suggest. Verb =/= noun.
posted by oxford blue at 7:19 PM on October 4, 2006


It is kind of ambiguous; I shared spiff's gut reaction, mainly because I could imagine a regular ol' "Assault Unit"... I like "Sensitive Crimes Unit" for this one.
posted by furiousthought at 7:26 PM on October 4, 2006


"drug dealing" = noun
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:37 PM on October 4, 2006


Sensitive crimes unit weirds me out. It assumes the reaction of the victim of the crime, and puts sex offenses even more in a separate category from other crimes against people. If I had to report a crime to the "sensitive crimes unit", I'd feel as if I were supposed to be ashamed. It's creepy. I don't really get what's wrong with "Sexual Assault Unit"

Also, um, people are going to start calling it "sensitive parts unit" or something.
posted by crabintheocean at 7:37 PM on October 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


One option would be to come up with an acronym or abbreviation, that spells either an actual word or a "fake word" that sounds acceptable. And then use the phrase "[acronym] unit" or "[acronym] detective."

The two examples I'm drawing that suggestion from are:
SANE nurses (sexual assault nurse examiners) that some ERs have on call, and
SART (sexual assault response team), a nonprofit crisis intervention service present in some cities

I'm lousy at coming up with acronyms though. Also, what words to include depends on how broad or narrow the scope of the unit is; is it sexual assault only, or do crimes such as harrassment, domestic violence, stalking, etc fall in their scope? The SARC Unit (sexual assault and rape crimes)? Or maybe drop the name "S.A. Unit" instead of "Sexual Assault Unit" at times when you don't wish to broadcast the nature of what's being investigated.
posted by neda at 7:43 PM on October 4, 2006


Special Victims Unit: SVU
posted by jne1813 at 7:52 PM on October 4, 2006


whoops forget i mentioned that -- just read the post
posted by jne1813 at 7:52 PM on October 4, 2006


Special Victims Unit is a cliche, but you have the advantage of instant recognition due to the TV show.
posted by fvox13 at 8:01 PM on October 4, 2006


I like Special Investigations.
posted by raf at 8:49 PM on October 4, 2006


Special Victims Unit is bad. It's not the victims who are special. It's the crime.

I vote acronym: SAFE Unit = Sexual Assualt Field E[xperts? xaminers? ngineers?]
posted by salvia at 9:38 PM on October 4, 2006


Avoid the double talk. Go with fogster's suggestion.
posted by BigSky at 9:49 PM on October 4, 2006


The Nudge Nudge Wink Wink Division?

Seriously, I have to agree with the folks who suggest keeping the name as is, but just having cards/messages not specify a Division or Unit. It's not as if someone taking the message is going to be all, "Wait a minute, Detective, what unit are you with?"

If you must change it, I think the acronym is a good idea, but try and resist the inclination to wrestle it into forming a real word if it wouldn't naturally.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:33 PM on October 4, 2006


I like the Gareth Keenan idea... but how about Victim Care Unit? Does what it says on the tin, just doesn't identify the type of victim.
posted by greycap at 11:23 PM on October 4, 2006


I agree with everyone here: no-nonsense full name for clarity, acronym for discretion.

Get detectives in this unit two types of business cards, one with "Detective Jones - Sexual Assault Unit" and one with "Detective Jones". When they leave phone messages, they can say "This is Detective Jones, with the Springfield Police." or "This is Detective Jones, with the S.A.U. of the Springfield Police."

Here are some possible euphemisms:
-Special Crimes/ Special Investigations
-Confidential Crimes/ Confidential Investigations
-Sensitive Crimes/ Sensitive Investigations
....plus any of: Unit, Program, Group, Team, Task Force, Division, Section, Squad, ...

"Confidential Investigations" or "Special Crimes" might be close to what you want, but they both sound like soft porn shows to me. If Detective Jones leaves a message about the Special Crimes Division, or the Survivors' Advocacy Unit, or the Dirty Secret Brigade, it's going to arouse plenty of suspicion anyway.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:48 PM on October 4, 2006


I think one of the problems is that "unit" is slang for male genitalia. I can just imagine a nasty t-shirt with "Let me come investigate you with my sexual assault unit" written on it. The words sexual and unit don't belong anywhere near eachother in the new department name.
posted by Gable Oak at 7:09 AM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Who do you want to be able to identify your unit? When I was telephoned at work by a detective, he identified himself just as Detective Bloggs, Anytown Police. I *knew* why I was being telephoned by the police, I didn’t need to which unit he was from. I did not want my co-workers to know anything about my assault and it was important to me that my co-workers could infer nothing about why I was being contacted. For all they knew I could have been a witness to a road traffic accident.

You could name the unit after the geographical location of its offices ie May Street Office, Anytown Police Department. Local police, social workers etc would soon know that the May Street Office = Sexual Assault but to the casual observer it would just seem like you were being specific about where you were from in terms of physical location. This solution avoids any charge of doublespeak or euphemism. If it were the case that nationally the only units which were referred to by address were sexual assault units then the general public would soon recognise what the May Street Office was, but if you are talking about one unit in one city, I think this is a good solution.

[Special Victims is horrible. It puts the burden back on the victim, making her/him sound unique, rather than the crime or perpetrator – it was something special *I* wore/did/said that caused the crime. (Believe me, however enlightened you think you are, you will probably get trapped into that kind of thinking anyway, so no need to reinforce it.) Also, and I recognise that this is a personal interpretation, I refused to describe myself as a victim for at least the first 6 months, because I wanted to seize some power back for myself and “victim” just seemed to reinforce that I was object not subject.]
posted by boudicca at 8:48 AM on October 5, 2006


Genius. I'm changing my vote to boudicca's.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:57 AM on October 5, 2006


I think one of the problems is that "unit" is slang for male genitalia. I can just imagine a nasty t-shirt with "Let me come investigate you with my sexual assault unit" written on it. The words sexual and unit don't belong anywhere near eachother in the new department name.
posted by Gable Oak 9 hours ago


I can't belive I'm the only one having troubles taking this seriously.
posted by oxford blue at 4:15 PM on October 5, 2006


Special Victims Unit is bad. It's not the victims who are special. It's the crime.

Wait. It's better for the criminals to be special than the victims? I agree that Special Victims unit is condescending, but I thought that the logic behind this was to keep the focus on the victim and away from the salacious details of the crime?

Not that I think that strategy would ever work, unfortunately.

Things being what they are, though, I would favor something like "Special Investigations" as being more accurate -- these officers usually get specialized training, after all, and in some cases work more closely with advocates than other departments would.
posted by desuetude at 7:49 PM on October 5, 2006


If I were renaming a department, I'd want to be aware of the possibility for derisive comments. It would be different if it was the Sexual Assault Investigation Unit. Sexual Assault Unit could sound like "a unit that sexually assaults." It reminds me of Forbes' Capitalist Tool tagline. Nobody would want to be known as a tool.
posted by Gable Oak at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2006


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