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

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By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

“When we put ourselves in strait jackets, we lose”

The thought of being a loser as a law enforcement official is like being kicked in the head and being stunned until the next kick. Projecting the mental approach the law enforcement investigator is in the process of using during the investigation needs to remain within his mind, not shared with others. The purpose of the secrecy comes from the law enforcement investigator being capable of conducting an investigation where the rules are created by him.

Every day the investigator must demonstrate patience, reasonableness, competence and intelligence in the mental approach in how they handle investigations. The investigators mental approach may speak for itself by the actions of the investigator, but the investigator will dictate what others should know. The complexity of the investigative strategy set forth by the investigator is something which can’t be impulsive but built with a foundation which should support the rest of the fact-finding mission.

The investigator is not built smarter than the other law enforcement officials or the public, but if he knows his job and has obtained the necessary training, education and skills, and experience to be the best he can be than he is an asset to the law enforcement agency.

Learning his trade was his goal from the beginning. He knew being assigned to the Special Assault Unit (SAU) would change his mental approach as a law enforcement official. He knew things he believed in would be turned upside and his attitude and beliefs as a law enforcement investigator would be set aside so he could learn from others who walked before him.

The mental approach an intelligent and competent investigator possesses over other investigators is how he dissects each case; sees the value of the possibilities; believes in what he does and how he does it; and he plays by the rules which makes him a man of integrity.

The law enforcement child sexual abuse investigator needs to be able to be empathetical, not too smooth, not too rough, but be someone who can stand on his own at all times, in any given situation. The mental approach he likes the best is from his favorite author James Patterson, the great investigator Alex Cross. If you don’t know anything about the character Alex Cross, he is an African American, 40ish, handsome and quite athletic. Alex is known for his brilliance in the way he takes on an investigation, creates a hypothesis and follows his initial gut feeling about the crime. In many of the books Alex has been the main character in Patterson’s books and in each book Alex always gets the perpetrator.

Image by Robbie Wroblewski via Flickr
The mental approach comes from his response to what he takes in such as in fantasy and reality. Somewhere between fantasy and reality is the piece of the puzzle which isolates the ‘truth’ and leads him to finding if the crime actually took place or was it a set-up. Too often in the real world of investigations individuals make allegations up for so many reasons, but the number one reason is retaliation. This investigator is capable and so skillful he can read between the lines and is always moving forward.

He never turns his back on anyone as his mental approach to the investigation is to be thorough, complete, protective, and proactive. Protective and proactive not only of the child victim, witnesses, but of himself. All of these individuals including himself need to be part of the solution to the claim that a child was sexually assaulted by a known sexual offender. Generally, the sexual offender is someone everyone knows, but had no idea that he would be capable of committing an act of sexual assault upon a child.

The ‘unknown’ is what makes being assigned to SAU worth the difficult and diligent work he has to put into making things happen. The stress psychologically and physically is difficult at times, but the energy he needs to get through the investigations always seems to find its way to the top. He takes nothing for granted as the mental approach needs to thoroughly thought out, challenged and developed.

Those that work with him in SAU enjoy his arrogance, but admire him more for the success he has in dealing with child victims and sexual offenders. They enlist his assistance if a sexual offender is not cooperating and has the ability to fool the naïve law enforcement investigators. Assisting others is something he takes to heart and enjoys the time he is capable and allowed to train others. Providing the knowledge and skills he has learned along the way is what makes him so invaluable.

If you are reading this and you are a law enforcement or private investigator than you know the type of individual I am talking about. It is difficult to understand why he remains in SAU when others do their time and leave, moving onto other assignments. Supervisors enjoy working with him, because he takes the time to keep them informed and completes his assignments without any barriers or problems.

At least once a year he will take a couple days off from the job, but it isn’t for vacation it is to get the things done which he hasn’t been able to accomplish during the last vacation he took over a year ago. His mental approach is one of never to stop thinking about the hunt and the mystery of the sexual offender. He can’t wait to return to work and begin the cycle all over again. New names, new victims and witnesses, but most importantly putting away individuals who molest, assault, rape and torture children.

Tomorrow, the man I described above will be discussed about his inner mental ideologies which makes him a perfectionist and one of the most outstanding investigator’s in his field. Without him SAU would not be the same, nor would the law enforcement agency have the reputation he brings to the resolution of crimes. He is valuable and therefore I need to continue to share him with you.

Note: I used the pronoun ‘he’ throughout this article, but instead of documenting he/she each time I chose to use ‘he’. This was intended only for formatting reasons. He is she and she is he and there should be no confusion that male and female investigators are equally qualified to be a law enforcement investigator, especially in SAU.

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