The Oneida County Child Advocacy Center is involved with hundreds of child abuse cases every year. Until nearly five months ago, all of those cases were being handled by just four investigators. In January, county legislators approved the addition of two more investigators. YNN's Cara Thomas tells us how this extra manpower is helping the C.A.C save even more children than before.
UTICA, N.Y. -- For Daniel Brown, being an investigator with the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center just made sense. He started his career as a sheriff's deputy and then began working as a school resource officer where he found his passion for working with children.
He said, "Once this position came open I was able to do both. Both do your investigating and work with children. So I figure combine the two make for a perfect career."
Brown is one of two new investigators working for the C.A.C. They were brought on board this past March and April. Chief Dean Obernesser said in just these few months he's noticed that the additional manpower has made a huge difference.
"We had four investigators that were running non-stop not able to catch their breath, carrying a caseload of 20 to 30 cases a piece," said Obernesser.
Once the new investigators started, caseloads dropped to a manageable level. Each person now handles about 10 to 15 cases at a time. This allows them to take their time and thoroughly delve into each investigation.
Chief Obernesser said, "Given the sensitive nature of the topic that we deal with down here you really don't want to leave any stone unturned."
Having smaller caseloads allows for more flexible schedules and the opportunity to work in tandem with other investigators on a case. In the past five months, Brown has learned that the job can be demanding, but the reward they get once the case is solved makes it all worth while.
"Your ultimate goal is to make that arrest and make sure that the children of this county are safe," explained Brown.
Obernesser said, "When a ten year old comes up and gives you a hug after an arrest has been made and says thank you, you're kind of hooked."
In addition to the two new investigators from the Oneida County Sheriff's Department, the C.A.C is receiving some extra help from a Utica Police Officer who has been reassigned to the juvenile aid unit.