12.28.2011

Law Enforcement’s Mental Approach To Child Sexual Abuse Investigations – Part II



By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

The need for law enforcement officials to manage their emotions may decide the length of time in their career. A law enforcement official‘s career will come to an abrupt halt if they take their work home with them. Being in law enforcement is a difficult profession to work in. John Violanti of the Badge of Life maintains that an average life span for police officers is 66 years, or 10.6 years after retirement, adjusted for age and gender.  This is lower than the average for males in the United States (76 years of age). Caring for oneself physically and emotionally are ways one can increase the likelihood of a longer life.

Man With A Gun.jpgWhen it comes to suicides there are 130-150 of law enforcement officials who commit suicide each year. However, in examining and evaluating these suicides there has been no direct correlation that the suicides were related to their jobs. In fact the studies have stated that the stress and trauma of the job didn’t create the suicide from what they can determine. Additionally, retired police officers appear not to commit suicide as once thought.

Why are all these statistics important? There are several reasons; first they do not paint a proper picture of how stress and trauma affects law enforcement official’s long-term lives. It is important to understand what a law enforcement official goes through on a day to day basis.
The old saying that a law enforcement official needs to leave their personnel problems at the entry door to their assignment makes life as a law enforcement official difficult. The expectation that each official will be perfect is unrealistic. An unrealistic work environment is stressful and confusing and creates its own problems.

The decision to take an assignment in the Special Assault Unit (SAU) isn’t an easy career builder. However, those who are willing to deal with the emotional lows and highs will find the assignment one of the most rewarding commitments they will experience in their law enforcement professional career.

What makes being a law enforcement child sexual abuse investigator are as follows:
1.      When the investigation fact-finding proves the child sexual abuse victim was actually sexually assaulted, there is a need to protect and serve the child victim from retraumatization and the sexual offender. There is nothing better than having the responsibility in walking the child victim through the legal process when the investigation substantiated the allegations.
Child Crying.jpg2.      When the investigation fact-finding proves the sexual offender committed the sexual assaults against the child victim, then pursuing, locating, apprehending, prosecuting and incarcerating the sexual offender is worth being assigned to SAU.
3.      When the investigation fact-finding proves the witnesses involved in the case are reliable and credible and they provided the law enforcement officials with pertinent, relevant and material information, then the assignment of working in SAU is worth it.
4.      When the investigation fact-finding proves the child sexual abuse professionals have and will continue to assist the law enforcement official in pursuing the truth, then the case assignment is worth it.
5.      When the investigation fact-finding proves the child sexual abuse cases to be true, due to law enforcement crime scene technicians, are worth their weight in gold. When the biological and physical evidence located at the crime scene puts the child victim and sexual offender at the crime scene together, than the case assignment into SAU is worth it.
6.      When the investigation fact-finding proves that the sexual offender committed the sexual assaults and the law enforcement officials can testify to his/her findings to a judge or jury, the case assignment is worth it.
7.      When the investigation fact-finding proves that the alleged sexual offender did not commit the act against the alleged child victim than being assigned to the case assignment is worth it.
8.      When the law enforcement investigator learns investigative methods and techniques from each case assignment, than being assigned to each case assignment is worth it.
9.      When the law enforcement investigator learns from each case assignment and is able and capable of sharing their newly found investigation knowledge, education, methods and techniques than is provided the occasion to teach other law enforcement officials is a great opportunity for all of the investigators.
10.  The above nine positive and successful tips of investigations should be cyclical so these characteristics are valuable and worth it to all the investigators and is a great learning, training and education which should be applied in every investigation.
Law enforcement officials are capable of understanding the daily stressors that not only affect their professional but their personal lives. It is difficult for most individuals to understand what is happening to their body e.g. signs that a heart attack is imminent. If a law enforcement official can determine that while at work they find specific triggers which causes their anxiety to rise, pressure on their chest, and they are experiencing severe headaches then they need to take steps to determine what these elevated body problems are.

Man With A Towel.jpg The mental process that a law enforcement official goes through while on the job and off the job in itself can cause severe mental and physical problems. Stress builds upon stress, and the current solutions to minimize the stress is to change their assignment, meditate, exercise, loss weight, eat healthy, take medications, or a combination of these options.

Even changing assignments may not work. Each assignment has its own mental and physical stressors which the law enforcement official needs to be sensitive to, aware of and to eliminate any of the stressors, immediately upon recognizing the symptoms.

Tomorrow, we will continue discussing the many mental approaches law enforcement officials deal with on a daily basis and how these mental approaches can affect their investigative fact-finding case assignment. Sometimes the mental and physical stressors can confuse and distort the information the official puts into the assigned case. In trying to neutralize the negative aspects of the mental approaches will be researched and discussed.




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