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

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing”
     Abraham Lincoln                                                      

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...
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Who nominates which mental approach a law enforcement investigator will decide to take when the investigative issues become a concern? The credibility of the investigator may determine who will lead the way. The training, education, and experience may play a major factor in who will be the assigned investigator. The decisions made in any case assignments may and can determine the outcome of the case.

Every investigator has to report to and is accountable to their supervisor and the supervisor is responsible to report to their supervisor and so forth. If the investigators understand the investigative rules, then the necessary time will be productive to accomplish the main goal, which is pursuing a fact-finding mission which identifies the truth.

There is this misperception in law enforcement that the best law enforcement officials become investigators in the homicide unit. This couldn’t be further from the truth as there are many officials who would rather work an eight hour shift and at the end of the day go home, with no concerns about a case load. In being assigned to the Special Assault Unit (SAU) the assignment into SAU is a 24/7 job which requires constant management about what is transpiring in the investigator’s assigned district.

There are those law enforcement officials who enjoy being assigned to a district and conducting all the follow-up reference any and all child sex crimes. Then there are those who enjoy working in the Patrol Division and not being assigned to any child sex crimes. Most of the law enforcement officials do not care to handle any investigations involving children. The majority of official’s state that they would harm the accused; would have nightmares about the incidences; the child victim is the same age as their daughters which is simply troubling and emotional, and so forth.
English: Mounted law enforcement
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If you compare the two mental approaches by the investigator and the official they are two worlds apart from one another. Is one approach better than the other approach the answer is no. Each approach has its merits, strengths, negatives, positives, and their own directions within the law enforcement agency. Each investigator is in their assignment due to requesting to be assigned to SAU and wanting to be a part of a Unit in the department which they believe has its opportunities to help people. The law enforcement official believes they are assigned to the Patrol Division due to their desires and needs and they enjoy for the most part the assignment.

In being assigned to SAU the investigator has the opportunity to become proficient in many areas of investigations. These investigative areas deal with how to conduct and perform interviews of children; all types of witnesses; interrogate sexual offenders; identify, collection, preservation, analysis, and storage of evidence. Further, the investigator will have access to professional experts in the child sexual abuse industry. These experts would include counselors, therapists, profilers, psychologists, medical personnel, and so forth.

The mental approach the investigator should have is one of receiving the training and education to acquire the necessary skills to be able to think critically and beyond the average investigator working in other investigatory units. The capabilities of being a thorough, intelligent and competent investigator in SAU are dependent upon the investigator having the correct and proper mental approaches. If the investigator understands that putting in the necessary time in receiving the training and education will make a difference for the investigator.

The purpose of having the correct and proper mental approach will become apparent when the investigator begins investigating case assignments on their own. When the investigator is assigned to SAU they should be assigned to a trained, educated and experience investigator who has the knowledge and intelligence which has made them a competent and seasoned child sexual abuse investigator.

Some law enforcement agencies do not have a mentorship program. Due to this situation investigators will have little understanding of the value of mental approaches when they begin investigating child sexual abuse cases. If there is any type of leadership inside SAU than this could semi-substitute the mentorship program. This leadership cannot compare to a mentorship program but is a reasonable alternative.

The power of knowledge and experience is of great value to the new investigator. If the goal of SAU supervisors is to draw education and experience from their seasoned investigators; than they are taking their Unit in the right direction. The supervisor can’t outsource the leadership qualities of those who have been in the Unit for years.

Specific investigative tools and mental approaches can bring about a balance for the new investigator so they can learn a common sense approach to their investigations. Being the new investigator isn’t simple task it takes time, sometimes years to become oriented in their jobs. It takes patience and much observation to bring an impact to their investigative roles and responsibilities. The supervisor of SAU must foster collaboration amongst the new and seasoned investigators who make-up a Unit of professionals whose main goal is to investigate child sexual abuse allegations and find the truth.

If there is anything the seasoned investigator can teach the new investigator is that the fact-finding mission must be performed with an objective mental approach, a fact-finding mission which is all about finding and interviewing child victims, conduct witness interviews and interrogating sexual offenders. These investigative commitments will demonstrate the integrity the investigator presents at all times when performing an investigation.

Tomorrow, the mental approaches continue to raise the eyebrows of many an investigator who is responsible for performing investigating child sexual assault allegations. The investigators needs to invest the time necessary to determine the reasonable and logical hypothesis which has substance, is reliable, logical and reasonable. Over the next couple days the need to dig deeper to understand mental approaches in investigating child sexual assault allegations is here and will be explored.

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