Handling child abuse

In 2006, I became aware of a brand new, better approach to handling child abuse cases that was easier on the child by reducing the number of interviews and made prosecution of these cases more effective. I, along with an investigator from the FCSO and a DSS worker enrolled in and completed the multi-day training. We became one of the first jurisdictions in the state to be certified in this forensic approach to investigating child abuse. I was so impressed with the new process that I came back and insisted that forensic interviewing would be what we would do in all cases here. The head of DSS agreed and I spent over $5,000 of drug forfeiture funds to convert a meeting room at DSS into a child friendly interview room with hidden cameras and microphones so the interviews can be recorded. The child is told of the cameras but they are hidden to reduce stress. State of the art anatomically correct dolls were also purchased for use in the interviews and Court. We had other workers at FCSO and DSS trained in this process as well as my assistant. We even contacted the schools to try to insure that interviews by school staff would be limited to reduce the burden on the child.
For over 8 years we have followed these procedures. In addition to our monthly meetings, we meet before the interview to discuss the case and suggest questions and look for possible issues. We watch the interview remotely and, when possible, we debrief after the interviews as well. When a trained DSS interviewer is not available we use the Foothills Child Advocacy Center in Charlottesville to do the interview. 
Last year a law was passed to mandate that all jurisdictions have MDTs in place and meet at least monthly. We are well ahead of the July 2015 deadline for certifying this because we have been doing this for years. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I wanted to make it clear that I take the prosecution of child abusers very seriously and as long as I hold this office we will use the best practices available to do so.

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