It’s fitting that during National Police Week, local civic organizations have come together to support the Huntingdon Borough Police Department (HPD) in sending one of its own to a training that will be of a great benefit of county residents.
HPD detective Charles Streightiff has been given the opportunity to attend training at the National Children’s Advocacy Center for specialized forensic interview training for children that can aide greatly with investigations that involve children.
The training takes Oct. 21-25 in Huntsville, Alabama, and when it’s complete, he will receive certification and will be the only local law enforcement official that he’s aware of in the county to have this training.
The training covers forensic questions, child development, memory and suggestibility, pre-interview planning, strategies for disclosing children and strategies for actively disclosing, among other topics.
Streightiff said he was inspired to receive the training while working with two investigators from the Children’s Advocacy Center in Bellefonte, an agency the borough often partners with for investigations that involve cases like child abuse, as well as working with Huntingdon County Children and Youth Services.
“I think it’s positive for my development and for cases where we don’t use the CAC,” said Streightiff.
As part of Huntingdon County CYS, Streightiff is part of a multidisciplinary team of human services organizations where the specific goal is to take a “roundtable approach” to ensure the needs of every child is taken into account.
Shannon Walborn, CYS administrator, in a letter to the borough police department, discussed what a benefit it would be for Streightiff to have this opportunity.
“His knowledge of how to complete an evidence- and research-based forensic interview can support the investigator’s evaluation in regards to the safety of the child’s living arrangement, can allow the child to tell their story in a safe environment and can assist in knowing what supports would be beneficial to the child,” said Walborn in the letter.
“While child abuse and neglect is not a pleasant topic, it should be comforting that professionals like Streightiff are doing what needs to be done in order to create a safe, supportive environment to the residents,” Walborn added in her letter. “We cannot wait to see what benefits come as a result of Streightiff’s forensic interview training.”
The training, however, costs around $2,500, so borough police officials sought the help of local civic organizations with the help of former mayor Dee Dee Brown.
Because of this, the Huntingdon County Women’s Club, the Moose Lodge and Family Center No. 223, Huntingdon, the Women of the Moose No. 223, Huntingdon, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks Lodge No. 976, Huntingdon, have come together to raise the funds for Streightiff attend and complete the forensic training.
“We want the community to know that local organizations are proud to support those who protect our community,” said Brown, representing the Huntingdon County Women’s Club. “When asked to do this, we are proud to say it was an easy task.”
Jeff Buckley, HPD chief, said he’s appreciative of Streightiff’s initiative to take on this training.
“This is a service that’s greatly needed and it will be a benefit to the community,” he said.
Streightiff pointed out that since the Jerry Sandusky scandal in 2011, the number of child abuse cases reported has increased, so the need for this type of training is essential.
“In order to do my job effectively, I felt adamant that I need to have this training,” he said.