LINCOLN, NE – Nebraska law enforcement agencies are slated to get another training tool to help officers who are working on child abuse cases.
In the past 10 years, reports of child abuse across the state have increased by the thousands.
Attorney General Doug Peterson announced Wednesday that all of Nebraska’s law enforcement agencies will receive an eight-part DVD series with instructions on how to handle reported cases of child abuse.
“When you do this, you have to do it right,” Peterson said. “You have to get it right the first time.”
The DVDs and informational notebooks are aimed at new officers, with lessons such as the proper way to gather evidence and interview children. It includes eight DVDs produced by the League of Municipalities and other law agencies, that will walk officers through every phase of handling child abuse allegations, including talking to the children. The series also discusses the role of Nebraska’s child advocacy centers and protective services hotline.
“These kids are scared to death,” Peterson said. “They are scared to death about what just happened to them and who can they talk to and who can they trust.”
Peterson says the materials are intended for officers who have been hired but not yet completed all of their formal training.
Preserving and gathering evidence is critical in these cases.
“Let the evidence speak for the child, so they don’t have to relive their abuse on the witness stand,” Kerry Crosby said.
Peterson hopes the DVDs, which will be distributed mid-August, will help new officers get the advanced training needed, especially in smaller agencies.
“The thought is we need to get this into their hands as quickly as possible,” Peterson said.
Carol Stitt was the director of the Foster Care Review Board for 30 years. She works for the League of Municipalities now and helped launch the training program. She applauded Peterson’s initiative.
“He’s prioritizing these cases not only in his office, but he’s prioritizing training and he’s trying to get the word out that one of his first priorities is protecting children,” Stitt said.
“Law enforcement has to do a thorough and complete job of investigating that crime, because that young man and that young girl are trusting for us to do that,” Peterson said.
The project is a joint effort of law enforcement groups, municipalities and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
Peterson is also sending out the message that there are resources that law agencies can tap into for help, including his office and seven child advocacy centers across the state