Training Tackles West Texas Child Crimes

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Police say crime numbers certainly aren't dropping and those investigations are never easy, but the hardest to handle are those against a child. 

On Thursday in Midland, about 60 city and council leaders gathered for training on how to handle it all.

This is a special training program focused on handling child sexual abuse cases. Multiple agencies play a role during the court process and today they all came together for some special training.

"It's being reported more and more," Sgt. David Garcia with the Midland Police Department, said. "There's been more outcries at schools."

Child sexual abuse cases are becoming more commonplace on the street and in the courtroom.

"I think more people are becoming aware that it does happen in our community and there is an increase in reporting," Andra Chamberlin with the Children's Advocacy Center, said.

That's why Midland's Rape Crisis Center brought in a nationally-recognized trainer who's a former federal prosecuter, helping West Texas agencies learn how to handle sex abuse crimes.

"This is a job that takes a lot out of everyone," Chamberlin said. "It's very hard to continue day in and day out, sometimes it's very disheartening. Val will hopefully help everyone rediscover the passion for the work that they do."

The goal is to help law enforcement, lawyers, and child protection groups work together reducing the strain and trauma for children testifying in court.

"It's about making a difference one child at a time," Val Van Brocklin, Trainer, Author, and Speaker, said.

Often times all those agencies don't operate as one unit, but West Texas is unique.

"This is the most cohesive team working together to meet the special challenges of child sexual abuse cases it's been my honor to experience in the country," Van Brocklin said.

"Midland, we're fortunate we all work together well," Sgt. Garcia said. "Extra training like this really brings it out and helps us get a little bit closer."

Last year in Midland, the advocacy center interviewed more than 450 kids who have dealt with sexual abuse.

"Unfortunately we're very busy," Chamberlin said. "We've had cutbacks in government funding and other sources of funding so we're making do with a lot less, but we're continuing the same level of services."

"It's all a team effort and what we try to do is make it as condusive as possible to report the crime and not be victimized again during court," Sgt. Garcia said.

The Crisis Center tells NewsWest 9, each time a child repeats their story it's like they're re-living it all over again. Programs like this one explain how to make the most out of that one interview saving young children from ever having to walk into the courtroom.