Tucson police officers and city officials honored National Sexual assault awareness month with speeches as they gathered to raise awareness on Wednesday.

“Sexual assault is a really under reported crime,” Mary Pekas, a TPD detective, said. “If someone wants to report something like a sexual assault typically the first person they encounter is a patrol officer.”

The Arizona Department of Public Safety reported 2,872 sexual assaults were reported in Arizona during 2022.

“What we know is that women of color have much higher rates of abuse and assault,” Chad Kasmar, the TPD police chief, said.

He said this month is about educating the public about this issue and it’s important to start talking about this in schools.

“What are we doing in the middle and high schools because we’re starting to see some behaviors that should be addressed,” Kasmar said. “It’s about really setting boundaries in a healthy way at a young age.”

Pekas said the police department is continuing to improve how officers are trained to handle these cases.

“How to really address the needs of that person first before getting the details about what happened,” she said.

There are different organizations like the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault that helps people who have been sexually assaulted.

“You have the right to not be a victim,” Kasmar said. “And to not go through this journey and trauma by yourself.”



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