Futuristic Criminal Investigations-Part VIII

Specializing In Forensic Child Sexual Abuse Investigations

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

EnforcementImage by Danny McL via FlickrIs there a time machine to the future for law enforcement to utilize in the pursuit of identifying, apprehending, prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating those who commit crimes against children? Sexual child abuse has been around before Jesus Christ came physically to this planet. Depending on the times men and women it seems from a historical review that they have been sexually abusing children. In order to take advantage of that futuristic time machine, law enforcement must invest the necessary time in understanding the need for changes in the way child sexual abuse victims are interviewed.

There are several organizations who instruct law enforcement officials and private individuals in how to interview child sexual abuse victims. In researching and reviewing their methods and techniques as a professional I am deeply troubled by what I am finding. As I have stated in numerous articles, police are turning their investigative role in interviewing child victims to civilian sub-contractors who have little to no experience in the field of investigating crimes.

The concept of utilizing civilian sub-contractors has been occurring for the past 30- 40 years. The futuristic viewpoint on this subject matter needs to see law enforcement officials taking back this aspect of the child sexual abuse investigation. The assigned law enforcement detective must interview the child victim for many reasons. There are a multitude of reasons. Let us look at some of those reasons; they are as follows:
·         Civilian sub-contractors are not required to attend a law enforcement academy where law enforcement officers learn how to investigate a crime, from the beginning of the crime to the end. Learning how to process a crime scene, interview witness, including the alleged child sexual abuse victim.
·         The law enforcement officers are taught and are knowledgeable about the identifying, collecting, preserving and analyzing biological and physical evidence generally found at the crime scene.
·         The law enforcement officers are taught how to understand and review medical reports, including laboratory reports i.e. medical findings of what was located on and in the child’s body. Prior to the child victim interview the civilian sub-contractor doesn’t have or understand what the biological and physical evidence states. This aspect of understanding the medical evidence would determine what types of questions are necessary to be asked of the alleged child victim.
·         The law enforcement officers expends more time talking to children and adults during an eight-hour shift. The role of competent and intelligent law enforcement officers is the ability of understanding and knowing the types of questions which need to be asked during the child victim interview.
·         The civilian sub-contractor has an immediate bias that the child is there to tell them that they are a victim of child sexual abuse. This mindset diminishes the credibility of the civilian sub-contractor and the methods and techniques utilized in the child interview.
·         The law enforcement officer doesn’t have the mindset of being bias or prejudice as child interview is only one facet of the collection of testimonial evidence.
·         The civilian sub-contractor has a major role to fulfill in interviewing the child victim. However, the civilian subcontractors are generally child advocates and do not understand how to discern the truth from a lie. It has been the mentality for years that children don’t lie; that the information they provided can only be disclosed because it happened; children wouldn’t have the ability to explain the sexual information they disclosed at the time of the interview if it had not taken place as the alleged child victim disclosed.
·         The boundaries placed upon the alleged child victim to disclose for the most part borders on minimizing the type of questions which are asked; the follow-up questions which are logical and reasonable; and the types of questions which are explorative in nature.
·         The law enforcement officer must take responsibility for every investigative step taken in the investigation. Aspects of the case should be investigated by the detective especially interviewing the alleged child victim.
·         The culmination of the investigation by the law enforcement officer comes when the entire case has been investigated and the final interview is that of the alleged child victim. The types of questions which need to be asked can only come from a competent and intelligent detective who has located, processed and analyzed the evidence, conducted any and all interviews, considered any and all hypothesis and comes to a neutral opinion of what happened to the alleged child victim. This neutral opinion is based on facts, not assumptions, not fantasy, but facts which identify the motive of what the alleged child victim disclosed.
·         The civilian sub-contractor for no rhyme or reason interviews the child before the detective has the opportunity to pursue his/her alternative hypothesis, the motive and any and all circumstances surrounding the allegations. Time should be taken to make sure that the alleged child victim is protected from being forced to disclose that an alleged sexual assault took place. Too often the alleged child victim has been processed through all the adults who support the child to continually disclose the alleged sexual assault. Strides by all of the investigative staff must be taken in order to make the fact-finding mission credible, reliable, competent and intelligent.
·         The futuristic law enforcement officer must retake control of his/her case and utilize the strengths of their investigative and interviewing training, education, and experience in asking the alleged child sexual abuse victim the proper and correct questions.
·         Being mindful that children are highly susceptible to leading and suggestive questions. A detective who understands this basic rule of child sexual abuse interviewing will close-in the types of questions which are eventually asked of the alleged child victim.
There is no way at this time to demonstrate to certain law enforcement officials that the current child sexual abuse interviewing policy and procedures needs to be evaluated, examined and revamped. The future in the law enforcement community which are responsible and accountable to perform the highest credible and reliable manner in which to achieve successful results are there to open the door and take advantage of the futuristic goals and mindset.

To target and identify mileposts and milestones would be an effective method and technique in moving towards the future. The network of professionals in the child sexual abuse industry need to value the expertise the law enforcement officials bring forth in the manner in which they interview children. The training and education of law enforcement officials in the child sexual abuse investigations needs an overhaul, with new leaders, whose ideas, innovation and creativeness are so desperately needed.

Tomorrow, the adventure into the realm of the Forensic Futuristic Criminal Investigation takes a turn down interview lane, continuing to focus on the role of the law enforcement officials who are responsible and accountable to the community to do the right thing with the competent and intelligent law enforcement child sexual abuse interviewer.

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