Walworth County representatives reaffirm commitment to help victims of sensitive crimes
LAKE GENEVA—Walworth County is breaking barriers and leading the state with its countywide initiative to work as a team to help victims of sensitive crimes.
“You make cooperation look so good. You make best practices simply part of your lives. And you are a beacon throughout the state,” Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch told a room full of Walworth County representatives Thursday.
Kleefisch attended a Thursday-morning protocol signing where county law enforcement agencies and units, public school districts, the district attorney's office and health and children's advocacy departments and agencies agreed to follow the same procedures and standards for reporting and investigating sensitive crimes.
The ceremony at Hawk's View Golf Club, 7377 Krueger Road, represents various people's efforts to keep children and families safe and help the abused and neglected.
“What this protocol does is memorialize what we are doing already on a day-to-day basis, and that's all working together to handle these difficult cases,” Josh Grube, deputy district attorney and prosecutor of sensitive crimes, said at the ceremony.
Protocol signings began 15 or 20 years ago. About every five years, the protocol is revised to reflect changes in law, investigative practices and crimes, said Paula Hocking, Walworth County Child Advocacy Center manager.
The protocol is a way to ensure everyone is on the same page and meeting the same standards, District Attorney Dan Necci told the audience.
The changes taking effect Thursday broaden the definition of sensitive crimes to include drug-endangered children, vulnerable or disabled adults and the elderly.
Sensitive crimes include, but are not limited to, all crimes against children, vulnerable adults and elderly; relationship or domestic violence; harassment; and stalking.
Adding drug-endangered children to the protocol is important given the number of people abusing heroin and opiates, Grube said.
Also included in the updated protocol is the Walworth County Alliance for Children Tree House, which opened in April 2013. Located on County NN in Elkhorn across from the sheriff's office, it's a central location offering services to children and families affected by sexual and physical abuse.
The protocol is also the first time school districts are included as mandatory reporters.
“In Walworth county, good men and women are doing far from nothing,” Necci said. “They are assuring they will do all they can as one to protect, serve, heal, and to see justice is done.”