§2 ch4: Investigation Response
4.2 Involving Law Enforcement and the State Technical Assistance Team
If a report is classified as an investigation, CD will immediately notify the appropriate local law enforcement agency to assist in the investigation. Staff should have agreements/protocols in place with local law enforcement agencies, which outline procedures to be followed in conducting co-investigations.
Current law requires the Division to co-investigate reports which, if true, would constitute a suspected violation of specific laws (210.145.3(4), RSMo. These laws are listed on the reverse side of the CPS Screening Classification Form – CS 27). In order to gain the best working relationship with law enforcement, staff shall develop local protocols with law enforcement and determine how they can best work together. During the initial contact with law enforcement, it may be decided that Division staff will begin the investigation and make a follow-up report to law enforcement, if needed. One example when Division staff and law enforcement may jointly decide that CD should proceed alone is when, despite the presenting allegations, alternative information known to one party or the other indicates the report may be harassment.
The appropriate law enforcement agency shall either assist the Division in the investigation or provide, within 24 hours, an explanation in writing, detailing the reasons they are unable to assist (210.145.3(4), RSMo.). Direct observation of the child(ren) shall not be delayed beyond 24 hours when waiting for law enforcement to respond. Staff will document the request for assistance on the CPS-1, Child Abuse Investigation/Family Assessment Summary, and file the written response from law enforcement in the case record, should law enforcement not assist.
4.2.1 State Technical Assistance Team (STAT)
The authority for the existence and function of the State Technical Assistance Team is found in Chapter 660.520 RSMo. State Technical Assistance Team for Child Sexual Abuse Cases, Duties… "There is hereby established in the Department of Social Services a special team, to be known as the "State Technical Assistance Team", to assist in cases of child abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse, child exploitation, child pornography, or child fatality. State Technical Assistance Team investigators licensed as peace officers by the Director of the Department of Public Safety pursuant to chapter 590, RSMo, shall be deemed to be peace officers within the State of Missouri while acting in an investigation or on behalf of a child. The power of arrest of a State Technical Assistance Team investigator acting as a peace officer shall be limited to offenses involving child abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse, child exploitation, child pornography, or child fatality or in situations of imminent danger to the investigator or another person…"
18.104.22.168 Types of Situations Investigated by STAT:
- Child Fatalities
- Includes all fatalities involving children in the care, custody, control or supervision of the State of Missouri.
- All other requests for child fatality investigations or assists.
- Sexual Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Computer Exploitation/Pornography/Neglect/Others
- High Profile Cases
- Includes cases receiving media coverage.
- Conflict of Interest Cases
- Includes cases in which the alleged perpetrator is a law enforcement official, juvenile officer, Children’s Division employee, etc.
- CA/N’s Involving Multiple Jurisdictions
- Including cases in which multiple victims of the same alleged perpetrator have come forward.
- Child Fatalities
22.214.171.124 Making a Referral to STAT:
A referral to STAT can be made by Missouri law enforcement agencies, State and Federal Prosecutors, Medical Examiners and Coroners, Family or Juvenile Court, Department of Social Services (Administrators, Children’s Division, Division of Youth Services and Division of Legal Services), Department of Mental Health and Federal law enforcement agencies.
All staff considering a CA/N for referral should consult with their direct supervisor with the final decision being approved by the Regional Director or their designee. If the decision is made to refer to STAT, initiate the process after consulting with local law enforcement officials. In some areas there may be an established standing agreement that all serious cases of child abuse/neglect be referred to STAT, however, in those cases it is still expected for the Children's Service Worker to complete the referral after reviewing the matter with their direct supervisor with final approval of the Regional Director or their designee.
Initial contact to STAT may be made by telephone at 573-751-5980 with a subsequent request formalized in writing on the State Technical Assistance Team (STAT) Request for Assistance Form, which will either be E-mailed or faxed to the requesting personnel by STAT personnel.
STAT will then assess the request to determine acceptance and/or refusal. If accepted, STAT will begin a co-investigative process with CD. If the request is refused, STAT will notify the requesting personnel/agency in writing, explaining the reason for their refusal.
126.96.36.199 The Role of STAT and CD Co-Investigating:
Consistent with the aforementioned definition of authority and purpose of STAT, any STAT investigator involved in the co-investigation of a reported concern of child abuse or neglect is functioning in the role of a licensed peace officer as endowed by the Director of the Department of Public Safety pursuant to Chapter 590, RSMo. Cases in which there are no other law enforcement agencies involved, STAT will take the lead role in completing the pending criminal investigation.
STAT’s involvement in Children’s Division cases is appropriate when deemed necessary; however, their involvement is not a substitute for Children’s Division. STAT’s involvement does not relieve a Children’s Service Worker of their responsibility to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect, to make appropriate contact with families, and to assume responsibility for the initial and on-going safety assurances of children during the investigation.
When working with STAT, the Children’s Service Worker is still responsible for conducting a thorough investigation in accordance with Children’s Division policy, including:
- Notifying law enforcement of the report;
- Assuring Child Safety;
- Establishing appropriate safety plans;
- Making contact with family members and alleged perpetrator(s) (Note: the Children's Service Worker may cooperate with STAT and/or law enforcement as to who will conduct the interview with the alleged perpetrator or other parties);
- Reaching a conclusion and documenting the finding in FACES; and,
- All other duties required by Children’s Division policy when conducting an investigation.
Note: If STAT and/or law enforcement are involved, the agencies may cooperate regarding certain actions taken during the investigation (such as who will conduct the perpetrator interview). However, the Children’s Division is responsible for all on-going safety planning and monitoring.
188.8.131.52 Resources Available to STAT:
The STAT has resources available for use during the investigative process that at times will need to be accessed to complete a thorough investigation, such as: a medical doctor specializing in pediatric medicine on staff; forensic interviewers to complete alleged victim interviews, witness and alleged perpetrator interviews/interrogations, and, technical assistance in matters requiring forensic specialists in matters involving computer exploitation, pornography, neglect, etc.
184.108.40.206 Delayed Conclusions Involving STAT:
Should there be a good cause for failure to complete the investigation in the information system within the allotted time period of 30 days, the delayed conclusion of an investigation involving STAT should be given the same considerations set forth in the Child Welfare Manual that would apply to delayed conclusions of co-investigations involving law enforcement.
NOTE: Do not delay conclusion of the CA/N report because the explanation has not been received from law enforcement.
Rationale for Joint Investigations
In those reports where both law enforcement and CD are mandated to do an investigation, teamwork offers several potential benefits, both to the child victim and to the professionals involved in the case. Coordinated responses can reduce the number of interviews a child undergoes. It can minimize the number of people involved in a case and avoid duplication of efforts. Teamwork can enhance the quality of evidence needed for trial. The transition from investigation to intervention can also be smoother (Findley, 1991; National Institute of Justice, 1991; Pence & Wilson, 1992). Other benefits of multidisciplinary investigation teams include:
- Direct communication and exchange of information;
- Skill improvement of team members because of sharing different perspectives (Skaff,1988);
- Enhance efficiency through joint investigation; and
- A joint investigation can also expedite treatment.
If a law enforcement official is available, arrange a pre-interview conference to discuss complaint and plans for investigation. If a law enforcement official is unavailable or unable to conduct a co-investigation, proceed with the investigation as required. A law enforcement official may join the investigation at any time during the process.
For reports alleging the operation of a methamphetamine laboratory, proceed with locally identified law enforcement officials designated to conduct methamphetamine investigations. Staff should never enter a household that they have reason to believe may contain a methamphetamine laboratory. Trained law enforcement officials, DEA agents, or specified drug task force members are responsible for completing the criminal investigation. Completion of the CA/N investigation will occur simultaneously with the criminal investigation when possible. Local protocol should be established for responsibilities of each agency during the investigation of a home containing a methamphetamine laboratory.
Chapter Memoranda History: (prior to 1/31/07)