The Child Advocacy Center works with law enforcement to help kids with trauma

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Child Advocacy Center provides forensics interviews and arranges for specialized medical examinations when necessary. There are currently 3 forensic interviewers at C.A.C.

“We’re specifically trained to interview children, that’s what we do all do day everyday.” Said Tifanie Petro, Director of Advocacy and Prevention at the Children’s Home Child Advocacy Center. “And it’s a specific type of interview that is meant to reduce the trauma. It’s developmentally appropriate for the child sitting in front of us. And we interview children ages 3 to 18 but can also interview adults that might have developmental needs that require a specific set of interview skills.”

A forensic interview is non-leading and non-suggestive and gives a child a safe and healthy way to share what they know about traumatic experiences.

Tifani also said “We are trained to ask questions in a very specific way so that our team, being law enforcement or child protection, can either prove or refute what the child is saying as part of a collaborative investigative approach.”

The Child Advocacy Center works closely with the Rapid City Police Department and Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. But they also work with the surrounding counties in western South Dakota. For the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, expert forensic interviewers are the best way to deal with victims of sexual and physical abuse.

Captain Tony Harrison of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office said “Science, and technology and experience taught us we can’t have street deputies interviewing young people. Trying to get stories out of them, that’s not our strength. We can interview people, and get stories out of people, but when you want an unsolicited answer from a very young person or an older person with a developmental disability you need an expert to talk to them and let them tell their story their way.”

The sheriff’s office says by working with the C.A.C. it’s able to get more accurate results in a safe and healthy way, without taking deputies away from their patrol duties.

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