Michael Thompson has had quite the month.
Not only did the Arizona State University police chief come up with the idea of having his officers wear teal-colored patches to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but he was recently named the inaugural Champion of Change by EVAW International. The group, which campaigns to end violence against women, created the new award to honor individuals who work to improve responses to victims of sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence.
"Chief Thompson has led this department through a series of critical reforms to create a safe, victim-centered culture on ASU campuses," said ASU Police information officer Katy Harris. "We felt it was so important to let students, faculty, staff and the surrounding ASU communities know that we’re here to help."
Thompson has been helping the cause in all sorts of ways.
The police department started its campaign in earnest in 2014, when ASU became the first university to declare its commitment to the Start by Believing cause. Not long after, Thompson led his agency in creating a Special Victims Unit, making ASU one of just four universities in the nation with an SVU dedicated to addressing sexual assault on campus.
"It is not easy to identify the need for change and set about implementing reforms," wrote EVAW International in a press release. "Making progress is hard work, and it can feel like it is often two steps forward, one step back. Communities will always need leaders like Chief Thompson to keep us moving forward."
One of Thompson's most recent intiatives was the creation of his department's teal-colored patches, a first-of-its-kind effort.
All ASU Police Department officers and aides are wearing the limited-edition patches throughout the month of April, taking place in conjuction with other efforts to raise awareness about sexual assault and enhance support for survivors. The innovative initiative is the first time the department has created a visible sign for its employees to wear.
The patches are just one of the ways the department is showing their support this month.
According to Harris, officers, police aides and support staff are also wearing teal bracelets and lapel pins. In addition, squad cars on four of ASU's campuses are adorned with teal ribbon decals for the remainder of April.
A limited number of the teal-colored patches are available at the ASU PD Tempe campus location for a $5 donation, the proceeds of which will be given to the Winged Hope Family Advocacy Foundation.
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