Officers and Child Protective Service investigators gathered on Wednesday at the Alice Police Department training center for a special training on sexual assault and family violence.
The purpose of the Sexual Assault Family Violence Investigators Course (SAFVIC) is for law enforcement and CPS to work closely and effectively with each other during an investigation of sexual assault or family violence case.
The SAFVIC Program is funded by a grant from the Criminal Justice Division, Office of the Governor and the National Violence Against Women Office. This program is administered by the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) with input from a statewide steering committee composed of representatives from law enforcement, prosecution and victim services.
“These trainings don't come up very often,” said Sgt. Aniceto Perez, training coordinator for Alice PD. “We jump at the opportunity to train officers for such an important issue.”
The course, hosted by the Alice Police Department, was offered free of charge to the 40 participates from Alice PD, Robstown PD, Duval County Sheriff's Department, Corpus Christi PD, Live Oak County Sheriff's Department, Nueces County Sheriff's Department and Portland PD along with CPS workers from the surrounding area.
“CPS has to reach out to law enforcement on death and serious injury investigations so we like to collaborate with (law enforcement) on training,” said Larry Young, Special Investigator IV with Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TxDFPS). “It helps us both. The end result is that we're more effective in what we need to do.”
Officers and CPS workers respond to sexual assault cases on a regular basis. While everyone has their own roles to play in the investigation they all work together to get to the same goal, said John Lennanm Region II Media Specialist with TxDFPS.
CPS received 121 calls from Duval County, 569 calls from Jim Wells County and 4,976 calls from Nueces County that were suspected neglect or abuse cases. Out of the calls that were suspected of abuse or neglect, 18.8 percent of the cases in Duval County, 16 percent in JWC and 23.4 percent in Nueces County were confirmed and investigated cases of neglect or abuse.
Dan Caddell, senior investigator with Live Oak County Sheriff's Department, was the course instructor and has more than 40 years of law enforcement experience. Caddell reviewed topics such as the history and dynamics of family violence, family violence and sexual assault investigative techniques and drug-facilitated sexual assaults.
“We are learning the difference between what (CPS) looks for and what (law enforcement) looks for in order to solve a case,” said Roxana Garcia, CPS Sexual Abuse Unit Supervisor in Nueces County.
At the end of the course, eligible law enforcement officers will be certificated as a sexual assault family violence investigator by Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) . For more information on the training call 361-854-2011 and speak with special investigators.
If anyone suspects abuse or neglect they are asked to call 1-8000-252-5400 or txabusehotline.org. In case of an emergency call 9-1-1.
“Ultimately, everyone's on the same path,” Lennan said. “Working together for the safety of the children.”