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

English: crayon portrait of Henry David Thorea...
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Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.

If the mental approach is later to be found to have been the wrong decision what are the repercussion to a law enforcement investigator who thought he was making the proper and correct calculation? In today’s law enforcement profession it takes a trained, educated, and experienced official to be clumsy about the decisions they make when investigating a child sexual abuse allegation. If every sexual assault was true, than there would be no need for law enforcement officials to investigated the alleged crime.

Too often, the investigator expends too much time considering how they will prove that a crime will occur. Since most prosecutors only demand the minimal results to file criminal charges and take a case to trial i.e. a competent child victim and a somewhat confession from the alleged sexual offender than they are off and running. The attitude by the investigator not to provide each person their day in court is simply inappropriate and wrong; shouldn’t everyone be innocent before they are proven guilty?
Jerry Sandusky, right, the former Penn State d...
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If the strength of the sexual assault allegation is so strong than why conduct an investigation. If the attitude is the case supports that the alleged sexual offender committed the act, then why put an effort forth. The mental approach to any child sexual assault allegation has to be one of objectiveness, neutrality and non-bias. The law enforcement approach and negative attitude stems from years of experience, is the “we versus them attitude.” Is this attitude really justified? Should an innocent man be treated like he just slapped the investigator across the face? Too often this is the mental approach an investigator demonstrates, wearing the unfortunate attitude on his sleeves.

So in order not to step into a hole the investigator may find themselves in, how can they side step these situations where their integrity comes under fire? Let us look at some of the ways an investigator can take the proper mental approach:

     1.      The mental approach a law enforcement official should apply in any given situation must come from being trained and educated in the usefulness in all types of investigations. This training and education should be developed at the police academy. Each day the law enforcement recruit is in the academy there should be critical thinking training. The new law enforcement official will be challenged with a new level of criminals and in order to challenge these criminal types, the mental approach should receive the training and education it deserves.
     2.      The mental approach needs to be a daily discussion with the training officer when the police recruit is in their street training development. The new police recruit must learn how to mentally approach each type of investigation. The old training use to teach recruits that once they received a call, to respond to an incident, they needed to process just how they would approach the possibilities once they arrived at the scene. Mental imagery has been around for years and is currently taught to police recruits. Going through a step by step strategy is a positive and structured response to an incident.
     3.         The mental approach must be more than the obvious. Anyone can read an outline, memorize the step by step process and then mechanically apply the strategy and process. Mentally approaching any given situation the law enforcement official must think “where no one has gone before.” Thinking outside the box is a great saying, but the mental approach needs to be defined at a higher thought process. The official must take what he/she knows i.e. strategy and take the possibilities to the next level. This will be difficult for most officials as there have been little to no training and education to produce officials who can utilize foundational and diversed mental approaches.
    4.     A positive and constructive mental approach needs to be applied from the time the investigation is assigned to the investigator until the investigation is completed. In order to establish the proper mental approach the first step the investigator must take is to dissect the alleged incident and then build upon each piece of the alleged crime.
   5.      One of the mental approaches the investigator should take is creating and thinking through each hypothesis. These hypotheses must be based on facts and evidence which have merit; the approach has to be objective with reliability and credibility. The mental approach towards utilizing a hypothesis must find its strength from understanding how the child victim, witnesses and sexual offender relate to one another. This theory is not based on their blood relationships, but on how these individuals know each other, how they came together, and what were the possibilities and opportunities for the alleged sexual offender to commit the criminal act.
     6.      A mental approach can be one of instinct, intelligence, ideas, reality, creativeness, innovation and so much more. Taking these elements of a mental approach allows the investigator to criticize what facts and evidence exists and do not exists. However, the investigator can arguably take any of these mental approach elements apply them to their hypothesis and determine if there is any value to their initial investigative theory.
     7.      According to author Robynne Boyd, of Scientific American, “The human brain is complex…the “10 percent myth” is so wrong it is almost laughable” says neurologist, Barry Gordon. He states, “It turns out though, that we use virtually every part of the brain and that (most of) the brain is active almost all the time.” So how does Boyd’s and Gordon’s information assist law enforcement investigators solve crimes? The answer is in what Gordon states, “that the brain is active almost all the time.” However, if the brain is actively working at what level of thinking is the mind thinking about how to solve a crime? The possibilities are endless. When not day dreaming the mind can provide the investigator with all the information they need to produce a positive result.
    8.      The investigator must understand the functions of the mind and how it can systematically assist the investigator in finding answers where no other investigators have ever gone.  The investigator must draw a picture of what their hypothesis looks like. The vision of the investigator of climbing distinct ladders to reach the truth and understanding that each step provides endless possibilities of discovery is a process the investigator needs to take at any and all opportunities.
     9.      Mental approaches come about by a foundation of training, education and experience. Each of these components provides the investigator with the ability to explore the relationships of each and every investigative finding.
    10.       The layers of creativity assist the investigator with which mental approach to use in any given situation. Creativity is not constant; in fact it changes under specific circumstances. This should cause the investigator to study and analyze the reality of their thoughts and ideas. It is significant to discover that the mental approach the investigator is taking may be an original thought; a divergent from the norm. The value of the mental approach may not be apparent during the initial stages of the investigation, but sooner or later the investigator will realize that when it came to fitting all of the pieces together there was this ability to develop ideas that do not normally occur to most people and clearly is a trait key to creativity.

The average investigator in reading this article will question the value of understanding the mental approach(s) process as it challenges the basic thinking, which has allowed them to be where they are and the successes they have had during their law enforcement career. There are different levels of intelligent and competent investigators, which will be discussed further in a future article. The higher caliber investigator will have the many opportunities to explore the multitude of mental approaches which are available to those investigators who are responsible for investigating child sexual assault allegations. All investigators who are challenged to be their best at any and all times surely must not be mediocre in their investigative approach(s) at any time. The investigator has the role and responsibility to adhere to the imprecise, creative and innovative mental approaches utilized by investigators, which have to be based on objectivity, not subjectivity, which at the completeness of the investigation confirms the integrity necessary in finding the truth.

Tomorrow, this unique series continues to challenge the most competent and credible investigators. I will continue to research and report the ‘possibilities’ that the right mental approach(s) can bring to a child sexual assault investigation. Discussing these possibilities make the new investigative reality worthwhile.

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