The Times West Virginian

December 18, 2013

Crimes Against Children Unit does amazing job, needs boost in resources

Times West Virginian

— In just a few short months, the West Virginia Crimes Against Children Unit has identified hundreds of child pornography offenders.

In 2013, the unit has also logged 508 criminal investigations; conducted 1,375 interviews, including 457 interviews with children; and arrested 185 offenders.

Considering that there are only 18 uniformed members and six civilian personnel statewide, the Crimes Against Children Unit is doing an admirable job with limited personnel.

Some lawmakers think they would greatly benefit from a major boost in the number of State Police officers in the unit.

And we agree.

The West Virginia Legislature’s Select Committee on Crimes Against Children is seeking funding for 50 new state troopers to expand the unit. The committee formed last year and decided to focus on crimes against children and studied the issue.

“We were concerned about child abuse and neglect,” said committee member Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia. "We met with the State Police and with child advocacy centers, and ended up with several recommendations we feel very strongly about.”

And expansion of the number of troopers in the unit tops the list.

“The biggest thing is doing more to catch and punish the perpetrators,” Fleischauer said.

To do this, the committee argues that the unit needs more manpower. While hiring 50 new troopers would require a hefty $5.7 million price tag, the select committee believes it can secure the funding.

“We have talked to the leadership, and we think we have a way to get some funding that will work,” Fleischauer said.

We think its crucial that the leadership take this recommendation very seriously.

Young, innocent lives are destroyed at the hands of criminals that are more often than not repeat offenders and sometimes even victims themselves during childhood.

If we could stop this cycle of crimes and abuse, the unit may actually and hopefully work toward a smaller case load.

And you really can't put a price tag on that.