A new instructional video could help law enforcement better prosecute child neglect and abuse cases, some of the most difficult and delicate cases law enforcement handles.
Attorney General Doug Peterson says it is extremely difficult to investigate and prosecute child abuse cases, which often force very young children to take the stand in a courtroom.
“These kids are scared to death,” Peterson says. “They’re scared to death about what just happened to them, who can they talk to, and who can they trust.”
An eight-part instructional video has been produced to help law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of child abuse and child neglect cases. It program also comes in notebook form.
A number of agencies worked to produce the series, including the Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island, the League Association of Risk Management, the League of Nebraska Municipalities, the Lincoln County Attorney’s Office, the Lincoln Police Department, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the Nebraska Sheriff’s Association, the Police Chiefs Association of Nebraska, and the Police Officer’s Association of Nebraska.
It will be distributed throughout Nebraska, especially aiming at small police and sheriff departments which often lack the budgets to properly train staff in criminal cases involving children, often very young children.
An investigator in the Attorney General’s office, Kerry Crosby, says it’s important law enforcement take the proper steps from the beginning.
“What we really, really try to do is gather as much evidence as possible to let the evidence speak for the child so the child doesn’t have to relive their abuse on the witness stand in a criminal court,” Crosby says.
Crosby says many times attorneys in the court room speak with children on the stand as if they are adults. He says the intensity of the courtroom only magnifies the trauma a child already has experienced, often at the hands of someone they trusted.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]