The Investigative Multi-Disciplinary Team is a collaboration of team members in the community who have legal responsibility for child safety, which allows for a coordinated response to investigations of child abuse.
The team serves any child believed to have been sexually abuse, suffered serious physical or emotional abuse, has been exposed to domestic violence or other dangerous living conditions. Children referred are the subject of child neglect or abuse investigations done by CPS, law enforcement or a combination of those agencies.
“Today we are marking the one-year anniversary of the re-organized Mingo County Investigative Team (IMDT), and reporting on the work of that team during 2013. In spite of very unfortunate and very public uncertainty and upheaval in county government, these professionals have been quietly working on behalf of the children of Mingo County and they have accomplished quite a lot in the past year,” said Cook.
Plans for 2014 include:
- Working with the Mingo County Commission to open a center in Mingo County to have a forensic interviewer and offer services from Williamson.
- The group is also hoping to expand membership to include all municipal police departments.
- The prosecuting attorney’s office is holding a meeting on January 28 with all law enforcement agencies to establish a standardized process for investigating infant fatalities.
- The Logan County Child Advocacy Center has been working with Logan Regional Medical Center to open a special child sexual abuse clinic to serve children from Logan and Mingo Counties. The clinic is expected to be operational by March 2014.
Cook shared some of the results for the team and for the Logan County Child Advocacy Center. Activity for 2013 for the counties they serve includes services provided by county: Boone, nine; Cabell, 13; Lincoln, 146; Logan, 2,022; Mingo, 1,352 and Nicholas, 19.
As for the law enforcement and prosecution, Logan County had 12 arrests, eight indictments, two pleas and two dismissals; Mingo County had 33 arrests, 15 indictments, ten pleas, two trials and one dismissal. The range of crimes included sexual assault, sexual abuse, child abuse or neglect resulting in injury, child neglect resulting in death and internet solicitation and online crimes. The child neglect resulting in death is trending up, with five new cases in 2013, and internet solicitation and online crimes are also trending up, with nine new cases in 2013.
The ages of children at initial contact: 67 percent were twelve and under; 35 percent were under six and 34 percent were 7-12 years of age.
Sgt. L. D. Hensley talked about his work with the Child Protection Unit. He said his unit handles physical and sexual abuse cases, along with neglect and internet solicitation and online crime, which is trending up.
“FBI statistics say that if you are a child on social media or the internet, your chances of being solicited are 100 percent. That’s how widespread the problem has become. It’s an every day thing now.”
Hensley said the legislature has been asked to expand the Child Protection Unit by adding an additional 50 officers to help combat the physical and sexual abuse and the online crime. He went on to talk about the opening of a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Mingo County.
“I’m really glad to see the CAC get going in Mingo County because a CAC is fundamental in today’s age to investigate and keep track of the investigation. Society is trending to where these crimes, heinous crimes, involving children are going up—things that you wouldn’t imagine could happen. Twenty years ago, we didn’t have the technology for all the internet crime to happen. It’s out of control. You can ask any police department represented here today and they will tell you the cell phones and internet are overwhelming our guys out there. That is in addition to the physical and sexual abuse crimes we investigate. A CAC makes it so much easier for you. They can do the interview for you and you don’t have a scared child victim sitting there with a police officer in a uniform trying to get sensitive information from them in some room in a police office. CAC’s keep track of your case load for you. These children need therapy and counseling and the CAC takes care of that. I can’t see me doing my job without the CAC. Prosecution of the perpetrators of these crimes depends heavily on the assistance of the CAC.”