LINCOLN — Attorney General Doug Peterson unveiled a new training effort Wednesday aimed at helping abused and neglected children.
The effort involves a series of eight DVDs to provide specialized training for law enforcement officers in investigating child abuse and neglect allegations.
Peterson said the goal is to fill a training gap for newly hired police officers and sheriff's deputies.
New hires often start work before they complete training at the state law enforcement academy, which means they have little background for handling abuse and neglect calls.
"The thought was we need to get this in their hands as soon as possible," Peterson said. "We just don't want any of those calls to be ignored or fail to be properly investigated."
Carol Stitt, a child welfare veteran, helped develop the series. She said the goal is to get the DVDs distributed to all law enforcement agencies in the state by mid-August.
Topics covered in the series include law enforcement officers' legal responsibilities, investigation strategies, evidence collection, the role of the state child abuse hotline and tips for interviewing children and suspects.
Kerry Crosby, a criminal investigator in the Attorney General's Office, said two key lessons involve how to talk with children and how to think outside the box when looking for evidence.
He also said the series aims to make officers aware of resources in the community that can help.
Amanda Nawrocki, a children and family services administrator with the state Department of Health and Human Services, said the series explains that officers can call on child welfare workers when a family needs help but when the situation does not involve criminal child abuse or neglect.
Staff from the Attorney General's Office will be traveling around the state in coming weeks to present the training.
The project was the work of a coalition of law enforcement groups, the League of Nebraska Municipalities and HHS.
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