Agencies gather for Crime Victims’ Rights Week
It’s not often leaders or representatives from all law enforcement departments and agencies are under the same roof. And if they are, it usually means something negative has occurred.
That wasn’t the case last week, however, as law enforcement representatives from throughout the county and beyond joined for a positive message: to help end child abuse as part of Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
‘It’s pretty big for us to have all of these people in the same building for the same reason,’ Donna Lloyd, Comfort House Child Advocacy Center executive director, said.
The program, ‘Behind the Scenes: A Walk through the Criminal Justice System,’ was presented by Comfort House on Monday evening, April 11, in the North Harrison High School auditeria and Thursday evening in the Corydon Central High School auditorium.
Representatives from E-911 dispatch all the way to judges spoke about each step of the criminal justice system beginning when an alleged incident occurs and 911 is called.
Dispatcher Sarah Lopp told attendees the most important information to relay to them is their location, type of emergency and if weapons are involved. From there, dispatchers determine who to send to the location.
She said the best thing the caller could do, in an active situation, is set the phone down but leave it on after completely relaying the vital information. That way, dispatch personnel can continue to monitor the situation.
Lopp also informed the audience that they can be reached via text, by texting ‘E911’.
Corydon Officer Mark Bye, who works as a school resource officer, said television shows such as ‘CSI’ have made it tough on officers.
‘They think we should be able to solve this in 45 minutes because that’s what they do on TV,’ he said.
Lanesville Police Chief Tom Walter said police officers have to wear a lot of hats such as philosopher, psychiatrist, nurse and others when faced with a crime incident.
‘Sometimes we have to switch them quickly,’ he said.
Walter also noted that each crime has a victim.
Program organizer Libby Stinson, prevention education coordinator for Comfort House, said 17 agencies were represented and several more had resource stations around the room/hallway with information attendees were able to take with them.
‘Comfort House is so thankful that all of those involved in the Harrison County criminal justice system took time out of their busy schedules to speak at the event,’ Stinson said. ‘We had a great response from people who attended, telling us that they enjoyed the event and learned a lot about how our criminal justice system works.’
Stinson said it was suggested that another similar event take place this fall.
Representatives from the following agencies spoke or participated in one or both of the programs: Harrison County E911, Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept., Corydon Police Dept., Lanesville Police Dept., Milltown Police Dept., Palmyra Police Dept., Indiana State Police, Corrections/Jail, Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk, Superior Court Judge Joseph (Joe) Claypool, Adult Probation, Circuit Court, Juvenile Probation, CASA, Hoosier Hills PACT, New Hope Services, Prevent Child Abuse, Mental Health Service and Floyd Memorial SANE.
Student members of SADD and school staff also helped with the programs.
Comfort House uses a multi-disciplinary team approach to investigating allegations of child abuse, the majority of which are sexual in nature.
One of the main benefits of the effort is it only requires the child to be interviewed once regarding the alleged abuse incident, instead of time after time as would be the case if the sheriff’s department, prosecutor’s office, Dept. of Child Services, child advocate and Comfort House didn’t work together.
If anyone suspects a child has been abused in any way, they should call the child abuse hotline, 1-800-799-7233. In fact, it’s everyone’s duty to do so as mandated reporters. If a person is aware of abuse and does not report it, punishment could follow.
Comfort House will have its annual fundraiser scramble Friday at 9 a.m. at Lucas Oil Golf Course in English. To register a team or to sponsor a hole, call Comfort House board member Larry Avis at 812-267-4005.
Monday night, a ‘Stewards of Children’ program will take place at the Harrison County Community Foundation building in Corydon to learn more about how to prevent, recognize and react to child sexual abuse. The cost is $25 for the program, which will run from 6 to 8:15 p.m. For more information or to register, call Chelsey Bohnert at 812-225-5437.