JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – 9 On Your Side is digging into Jacksonville’s plan to combat the recent uptick in child abuse cases, which has law enforcement requesting more help.
Last year, two investigators were assigned to 415 cases of juvenile crime and each detective averaged between 40 to 60 hours per case. These detectives also are on call for other crimes, making it difficult for them to dedicate their time to helping child abuse victims.
“Because we had so many of these cases and our juvenile case load has increased is to consider adding another juvenile detective to our division,” explained Jacksonville Police Chief Mike Yaniero.
At the city’s budget workshop last Tuesday, the city gave JPD the go ahead to find a seasoned officer to fill the position.
Helping out with the renewed mission is a local agency, The Child Advocacy Center.
“All of the children that are victims of abuse come here for their evaluation and we do the evaluation in collaboration with them,” said Kathleen Holbrook, the Director of the Child Advocacy Center.
At the advocacy center, child victims are able to meet in a much more welcoming environment than a police station. Investigators and district attorneys watch from another room, giving space to help the children talk.
“A child sexual abuse or child physical abuse case, they take a lot time because you have to do an interview and medical exam and gather the facts,” Holbrook said.
The goal of both organizations is clear.
“Restore their innocence and break that cycle so they become productive people in our community,” said Chief Yaniero.
“Drive away offenders so they don’t want to come to Onslow County to commit crimes against children because they’re going to be investigated and prosecuted,” said Holbrook.
The Child Advocacy Center in Jacksonville says they see nearly 35 children a month who are victims of child physical or sexual abuse. The team-up between those at the Child Advocacy Center and police creates a 93 percent success rate in prosecuting these cases.