WVVA Special Report: Crimes Against Children - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

WVVA Special Report: Crimes Against Children

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PRINCETON, W. Va (WVVA)-- Police tell WVVA that crimes against children are time-consuming for police to investigate.

Sgt. Melissa Clemons, who investigates these crimes on the West Virginia State Police Crimes Against Children unit, said the hunt for perpetrators can drain resources, and take officers years to finish-- due to the nature of those crimes.

The growth of file sharing and Internet use among offenders only perpetuates the problem, she said.

Clemons tells WVVA there were 194 people arrested in WV for child crimes last year, charged with 1,000 felonies. 574 investigations were initiated, and 482 children interviewed, with the help of organizations like Child Protect in Mercer County. 

The bulk of all of that was shared between 14 troopers, who are overloaded with cases. 

But a new bill could change that.

Legislators like Delegate Linda Phillips in Wyoming County are working on a plan to bring in 50 new troopers, pushing the more experienced ones up to the Crimes Against Children Unit.

 "It would just create a domino effect that since we [would] have more troopers," said Phillips,"[instead we would] put this trooper in [one] area, and then this trooper will move up into the crimes against children unit."

Those more experienced police officers would be best suited to take over crimes against children investigations, said Clemons.

"To be able to do a thorough investigation, and to be able to sit down with someone who's committing these acts and to be able to interview them," she said, "and get them to tell you, that's something that you need [to already know how to do effectively.]"

Experts we spoke with say nationally, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. The proposed bill could change that, said Clemons.

Delegate Phillips hopes to create funding for the 50 new troopers to be hired, within the state's 2015 budget. She says she's "hopeful" it will work, and the new class of police officers would begin training soon after.

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