#9. Community Police Academy – Special Victims

For 12 weeks, Sherard Edington is taking part in the Community Police Academy offered by the Nashville Police Department. Through lectures and demonstrations, he is learning about the inner workings of law enforcement in Davidson County. These are his reports.

Dear Friends,

When we think of policing, we like to think of the more “exciting” aspects of law enforcement like homicides and gang shootouts and bank robberies and high-speed pursuits—the stuff you see on TV. But tonight, we examined the more loathsome side of society as we looked at crimes against children and sexual assault and trafficking—the sort of crimes that can make you disgusted with humanity as a whole.

This week’s presentations covered the weighty topics of Youth Services, human trafficking, and sexual assault. The class learned about the work the police do in each of these areas and the relevant statistics.

The Youth Services Division has four units:

  • Missing and Runaway Juvenile Unit
  • Crimes Against Children Unit (physical abuse)
  • Juvenile Sexual Assault Unit
  • Death Investigation Unit

Statistics differ, but around 90% of juvenile sex victims know their perpetrator. They are usually a family member or acquaintance. Only about 10% of children are assaulted by a stranger. Nationwide, 88% of perpetrators are male. The police work very closely with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS).

Youth Services also investigates child deaths. Sadly, over half of these deaths are attributed to unsafe sleeping conditions—usually suffocation—which is easily preventable.

The second presentation was from the Special Victims Division. The first thing the officer explained is that unlike TV, they cannot solve a case in an hour. Sex crimes are lengthy and complex, especially ones involving children.

The Special Victims Division covers sex crimes, human trafficking, the Sex Offender Registry, and Internet Crimes Against Children.

Human trafficking can be broken down into sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Labor trafficking usually involves farm workers and construction workers and these crimes are typically handled by federal authorities. Sex trafficking is an acute problem in Nashville given the convergence of several interstates and the proximity to Memphis, Birmingham, and Atlanta. The police work very closely with hotels educating the staff to the signs of sex trafficking.

Once again, I have been impressed with the professionalism and commitment of the police, especially the ones from this class who must deal daily with such abhorrent offenses.