For several years, sexual assault victims in Freeport haven’t had the chance to be heard.
Now that Corporal Robyn Stovall has taken on the role of the Special Victims Unit Detective, she is giving those victims a voice.
“SVU, Olivia Benson of Freeport, it’s me!” Stovall said. “We have a Special Victims Unit and I’m it.”
Freeport has its own Special Victims Unit and Corporal Robyn Stovall is the one helping to solve the crimes.
Freeport received a grant to create the position from the U.S. government two years ago. This opened the doors for the 20 year veteran.
“When I heard about this grant that we were being awarded, I was very excited,” Stovall said. “It was something that interested me.”
Stovall then said, “I didn’t think that our response to these crimes were what they needed to be and not because lack of caring by the officers, but just not educated.”
Since taking over the SVU, Stovall says the department has been much better about responding to sexual assault cases. For instance, she’ll review police reports and determine if more charges are justified.
“I feel like now that this position is formed, I’m able to fight for those survivors a little better than we were before,” Stovall said.
Stovall says domestic violence cases in Freeport have gone up over the past two years, emphasizing the need for a Special Victims Unit.
“Letting these victims and survivors know that they are believed, let them know that you believe them and ask them what you can do to help,” Stovall said.
Stovall recently attended the 2019 International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Increasing Access in San Diego.
“I’m excited to work together with the members of the community from the attorneys to the judges to the advocates to the nursing staff at hospitals,” Stovall said.
She hopes to take what she learned to her fellow officers as well.
“I think the officers get a better understanding now of what the advocates do and as far as sexual assault, they do respond to the hospitals for cases of sexual assault and meet with the victims right at the hospital,” Stovall said.
Stovall says she’s excited about the possibility of Freeport having a Family Justice Center similar to the one that Winnebago County is working on.