Sheriff Hakes Testifies for Senate Bill, Victim Advocacy

Sheriff Hakes Testifies for Senate Bill, Victim Advocacy

Chippewa County Sheriff, Travis Hakes, was recently part of testimony regarding a Senate Bill and child advocacy issues in our area. Below is that communication from the Sheriff:

January 25, 2024
Dear Committee,

I sit here today, to discuss the impacts that Senate Bill 877 and the impacts it has on public safety
in Chippewa County. While reviewing this bill, I see it specifically addresses the Chippewa
Valley Child Advocacy Center. I will first discuss my experiences with that center.

The Chippewa Valley Advocacy Center provides a service I first experienced as a fresh patrol
officer in the Village of Lake Hallie. As a patrol officer in the Village of Lake I was responsible
for responding to calls for service and investigating them to completion. As an avid angler, I
would best describe this as the rule of, if you catch it, you clean it.

Investigating crimes against children legally require special set of interviewing techniques.
Uniformed Law Enforcement can be impactful on interviewing children, there is data collected
that will show it can be more traumatic for child victims, as well as the authoritative presence
can solicit responses a child may believe they want us to hear, instead of what occurred.
During these interviews the interviewer needs to establish that the child knows the difference
between a truth and a lie; as well as the consequences of them. To a certain degree they assess
the cognitive level of a child. They are trained to ask open-ended, non-leading questions. These
interviews are referred to as forensic interviews.

I wish we lived in a world where children did not have to fear sexual predators, one where
children were not exposed to maltreatment or neglect. The harsh reality is that during my career I
have had to investigate parents for sexually assaulting, mistreating, and neglecting their own
children. Mistreatment of children makes my stomach turn and has scientifically shown to create
a cycle of abuse. Many sexual predators were first victims of sexual assault.
The Chippewa Valley Child Advocacy Center is a resource that is used multiple times a day by
local law enforcement agencies. Our Office uses the Advocacy Center multiple times a week,
and sometimes multiple times a day.

The Center provides an invaluable resource to families and youth in our area. Because of their
work we have been able to hold countless child predators accountable for their actions. The work
the center does with follow-up care takes steps towards breaking the cycle of abuse. The greatest
investment a society can make is in their future, and our children’s well-being is that future.
SB 877 also increases the grant funding opportunities for organizations that assist domestic
abuse and adult sexual assault victims. Our Office has been making strides to increase our
partnership with the Family Support Center. During my career I have also assisted domestic
abuse victims to seek shelter at the Bolton Refuge Center in Eau Claire.

In the first part of January 2024, the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office began to complete a
Lethality Assessment Program in partnership with the Family Support Center. This program
includes a form that we complete on scene with victims of domestic violence. If there are
heightened lethality risks associated with domestic violence, our Deputies immediately contact
an on-call advocate to speak with the victim. The program also has the Family Support Center
attempting contact with all victims of domestic violence that are reported to the Chippewa
County Sheriff’s Office. These advocates contact victims to support them. Our goal is to stop the
cycle of domestic violence and prevent lethal incidents.

I could provide you with countless examples of the exemplary work done by the facilities that we
have a partnership with, but out of respect for your time and the victim’s privacy I will simply
say this: Senate Bill 877 provides additional funding to help victims of traumatic life altering events in
ways that most law enforcement is not adequately capable of. This bill is about public safety, it’s
about taking care of victims of traumatic incidents.

I am asking that before you vote on this bill, think about every human who has been the victim of
one of these vile crimes. Then ask yourself if their safety, and society’s future is worth voting
for. Please do not turn your back on our victims, vote in support of this bill; our future is worth
the investment.

Sheriff Travis C. Hakes

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