11.26.2011

Futuristic Criminal Investigations-Part XXV

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Specializing In Forensic Child Sexual Abuse Investigations

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

As I come to the close of this series, I want to complete the futuristic series with interviewing and investigative steps the future law enforcement official and investigator can use to maximize the quality of the work they perform. It is too often that from the child victim interview to the interview of a witness to the criminal charging of a sexual offender that the attitude by society is that law enforcement failed to conduct a competent, thorough and complete child sexual abuse investigation.

These negative allegations come about because law enforcement officials “appear” to do the minimal and then without rhyme or reason charge an individual who one could argue is innocent of the alleged crime. The reason why individuals appear to be wrongly accused possibly is generated by the failure of law enforcement to take the necessary investigative steps available to law enforcement. These necessary investigative steps deal with a powerful tool called epistemology which according to About.com is defined as:

Epistemology is the investigation into the grounds and nature of knowledge itself. The study of epistemology focuses on our means for acquiring knowledge and how we can differentiate between truth and falsehood. Modern epistemology generally involves a debate between rationalism and empiricism, or the question of whether knowledge can be acquired a priori or a posteriori:
Empiricism: knowledge is obtained through experience.
Rationalism: knowledge can be acquired through the use of reason.

So how does a law enforcement official utilize epistemology as an investigative tool which will lead them to the truth? Let us examine the options:

1.      Law enforcement officials need to understand what information is obtainable. Evidence comes in many forms and is collected by competent and intelligent law enforcement investigators for the sole purpose to identify if a crime in fact occurred. If a man is accused of raping a woman and leaves his DNA at the crime scene, then comparing the DNA to his DNA will determine if he is the unknown perpetrator.
2.      Law enforcement officials need to utilize any and all investigative alternative hypothesis to determine the initial and final hypothesis i.e. the truth of the allegations.  A hypothesis is a “supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.”
3.      Law enforcement officials need to teach critical thinking to any and all investigators who want to become a competent and intelligent child sexual abuse investigator. Critical thinking is a powerful tool which allows the investigator to take information and analyze it with other information and come to a conclusion which is based on fact not fantasy.
4.      Law enforcement officials need to educate and train their child sexual abuse investigators on the proper child victim interview protocols and procedures.
5.      Law enforcement officials need to educate and train their child sexual abuse investigators on the proper witness interview protocols and procedures.
6.      Law enforcement officials need to educate and train their child sexual abuse investigators on the proper sexual offender protocols and procedures.
7.      Law enforcement officials need to educate and train their child sexual abuse investigators on how to identify, photograph, collect, analyze and store biological and physical evidence.
8.      Law enforcement officials need to educate and train their child sexual abuse investigators in how to investigate a multiple victim, multiple witnesses and multiple sexual offender case. Such as is the case at Penn State University.
9.      Law enforcement officials need to educate and train their supervisors and mentors on how to monitor and follow-up the investigative work their investigators are performing. Evaluating and critiquing an investigators work is the best method and technique in teaching them how a child sexual abuse allegation should be conducted.
10.  Law enforcement officials need to promote to their investigators that “Doing The Right Thing” must be the attitude and belief system in any type of criminal investigation.

There are so many things law enforcement officers can do to enhance their capabilities as a child sexual abuse investigators. With the multiple child sexual abuse child victim interviews protocols and procedures someone in law enforcement needs to make a decision on what would be the best protocol and procedure to utilize when interviewing not only child victims but witnesses and sexual offenders.

There are no easy or fast answers that law enforcement can institute in their child sexual abuse investigations. It is a learning process which occurs over many years to establish a protocol that has proven to be of value to their agency.

Law enforcement must understand that there is so much research being conducted that the protocols of today will not be the protocols of tomorrow.  The need to be flexible and institute the futuristic ideology of how to approach an allegation of child sexual abuse is never ending. The training and education available to law enforcement officials is cyclical and there is a need to provide these opportunities to the investigators who want to expand their knowledge and skills into a world which most investigators want no part of it. Being an investigator in the field of child sexual abuse is not an easy task to manage. Managing emotions and the negative thoughts of what everyone who comes in contact with a sexual offender wants to do, is difficult at best.

Tomorrow, the forensic futuristic policies and procedures of what society expects law enforcement to accomplish when someone makes a complaint of an alleged child sexual abuse allegations may be unrealistic. However, the challenge of solving an unsolvable case places the investigator in a position where many never travel and/or succeed. It is those investigators who put forth the necessary effort to overcome the obstacles which every investigation faces. The future has many doors which still need opening and the discovery beyond the threshold is one which has many answers that we have yet to discover.





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