Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office co-locates with Child Advocates of Fort Bend
Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls has teamed with Child Advocates of Fort Bend to co-locate detectives investigating child abuse cases at their Children’s Advocacy Center in Rosenberg. The Children’s Advocacy Center works directly with child victims of abuse and facilitates the collaboration across law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office and CPS to ensure that all partners work as a team on these very critical cases. Both the DA’s Office and CPS currently have their child abuse prosecutors and investigative units, respectively, located at the Child Advocates of Fort Bend facility.
“One of the first things that I did when I took on the role of Fort Bend County Sheriff was to visit the Children’s Advocacy Center to fully understand the comprehensive range of services provided by Child Advocates of Fort Bend. They work directly with the children and provide forensic interviewing of alleged child abuse victims, therapy and mental health services, and court preparation and accompaniment for these children. I felt that collaboration and communication across our agencies would be enhanced by having two of our detectives co-locate at the Child Advocates office. The program is now a model for other counties across the state of Texas”, said Sheriff Troy Nehls.
One of the benefits of creating strong partnerships across law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office and CPS is to ensure that no child falls through the cracks and that children are safe from future victimization and abuse. This was highlighted in a recent criminal case involving the continuous sexual abuse of a child. The Children’s Advocacy Center, District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office worked hand in hand. It resulted in the county’s first life sentence verdict by a jury and the healing of a child who was able to put her abusive past behind her and has a bright future ahead.
District Attorney John Healey said, “This is an excellent example of why it is important to continue putting resources into child abuse prosecution. Because of the excellent work of the investigators at the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, the committed staff at the Fort Bend Children’s Advocacy Center, and my dedicated prosecutors, a serial predator will never be able to harm another child again. I hope the strong message the jury sent will encourage child abuse victims to come forward. It should also send the message to other predators that the citizens of our county will not tolerate child abuse.”
Ruthanne Mefford, Executive Director of Child Advocates of Fort Bend, added, “The co-location of the Sheriff’s Office in our building will certainly enhance the relationships between the Sheriff’s Office detectives, the DA’s Office prosecutors and our staff. It is a significant step in the evolution of our multidisciplinary approach.”
Last year, the Children’s Advocacy Center served 1068 children, of which 80% were alleged victims of sexual abuse. It was started in 1996 to address the large and growing numbers of children who had been traumatized by abuse and were not getting the help they needed. Children are brought to the Center by law enforcement or CPS where they are able to tell their stories to a trained forensic interviewer in a child friendly environment. A recording allows the child to only have to tell their story once and avoid being re-traumatized with multiple interviews. The Center conducted 741 interviews last year.
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