Investigative Psychology – What Does It Mean And How Can It Help Law Enforcement Investigations? Evaluating The IP System And Detective Part X

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

The reason why child sexual abuse allegations are so important to understand is there are numerous variables which cause the IP Detective to question the validity and credibility of the allegations. Therefore, the investigative process must have integrity and answer any and all questions the IP Detective may ask throughout the child sexual abuse investigation.

If the child victim interview is productive and the child victim provides content, context, and complete and thorough details reference the sexual assault the IP Detective can move forward.

In moving forward the IP Detective will have to establish timelines, identify witnesses, collection, preservation, and analysis of evidence; obtain physical, trace and biological evidence, documents and other resources which will lead the IP Detective in obtaining the truth.

The IP Detective needs to organize the Case Action Plan in such a manner that the information and intelligence gathered will allow the IP Detective to reach an initial hypothesis.

The initial hypothesis and then the concluding/final hypothesis will continue through the fact-finding process and lead the IP Detective to the final hypothesis.

The IP Detective will interview the child victim to ask questions which no one seems to know the answers to. This is why it is important to interview the child victim first and the sexual offender last.  After all the evidence has been obtained, the information gathered and the final hypothesis has been proven by a reasonable doubt, the IP Detective can send the case and information to the prosecutor for the filing of charges.

The prosecutor generally makes a determination within 30 days of the IP Detective’s filing of the paper work. Unless the circumstances warrant an immediate response i.e. the sexual offender is violent, possibly a flight risk and so forth, the prosecutor generally utilizes all the necessary time to file the criminal charges.

The prosecutor may have the IP Detective perform other functions, prior to the filing of charges. Sometimes the prosecutor will want additional evidence sent through the crime lab, additional witnesses interviewed and etc.

When the case is filed the criminal charges need to be solid, above reproach and so forth. The prosecutor and IP Detective may get together and talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Sometimes there may be a need to re-interview the child victim for clarification. There may be a situation where the prosecution wants to meet with the child victim prior to the filing of charges.

The child victim interview must have a structure to it. There are numerous child victim interview protocols which are being utilized by law enforcement officials, child victim interviewers, State agencies, local and county agencies and so forth.

The most utilized child interview protocol which is utilized by the majority of law enforcement officials is the NICHD Investigative Interview Protocol created by Michael Lamb et al. Let us examine the NICHD Investigative Interview Protocol:

 The NICHD Investigative Interview Protocol is like most of the interview protocols in that it was designed to obtain the maximum amount of information from a child using recall memory probes.

The goal of the NICHD Investigative Interview Protocol is to train child interviewers into becoming forensic investigators. In using this protocol the forensic investigators are able to obtain the necessary information utilizing open-ended questions. There was a greater amount of information obtained using the open-ended questions. Studies have demonstrated that the older the child victim the information obtained is greater than younger children.

 Many law enforcement agencies outsource the child victim interviews, which is a “violation of common sense” in conducting criminal investigations. When examining the “violation of common sense” the IP Detective has knowledge about the case that the child interviewer does not. The IP Detective understands the nuances and subtleties; the smallest to the largest investigative details; the background information on the witnesses and is generally building a complete profile about the sexual offender.

The “violation of common sense” demonstrated by the law enforcement officials in outsourcing their child interviews cannot justify this investigative plan. Sometimes in a major homicide a child victim specialist will interview the child witness, but outside this investigative step, the IP Detective needs to conduct the child victim interview.

The IP Detective knows what questions need to be asked. The civilian interviewers did not attend the police academy which is now close to six months in time. During the police academy law enforcement officials are taught everything about crime scene investigations to interview techniques to understanding how to put a criminal case together.

The knowledge the IP Detective has available to them to conduct child victim interviews is vast. The civilian interviewer generally attends a two week course on child interviewing. However, the do additional training after they obtain their job with the outsourcing agency.

There is simply no justification to allow an untrained, inexperienced and lacking in knowledge in how to put together a criminal case for prosecution, who are not competent and thorough in how they approach and conduct a child victim interview.  This viewpoint is controversial and needs further examination by law enforcement officials who have relented to allowing others do a very important aspect of their job. Maybe a study should be performed to determine if my “violation of common sense” has any merit.

Tomorrow, I will continue examining, evaluating and analyzing the IP System and IP Detective. Child sexual abuse investigations need advancement, credibility, reliability and validity. The integrity of the new procedures, policies, protocols and processes will change the way things are done when it comes to investigating a sexual assault allegation.

 Forensic Child Sexual Abuse Investigations Part 1
                                     By: Lawrence W. Daly
                                     Webinar Time- September 22, 2011 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
                                     Registration Fee - $99.00

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