It is the duty of the sheriff to ferret out, detect, and prevent crime; to secure evidence of crimes; and to apprehend and arrest criminals. Pursuant to statute, the sheriff must furnish the necessary deputies to carry out these duties. T.C.A. §§ 8-8-213, 38-3-102, and 38-3-108.
Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Child Protective Team
Each county is required by law to have a child protective team. T.C.A. § 37-1-607(a)(1). Pursuant to the same statute, each team must have a properly trained law enforcement officer with countywide jurisdiction (i.e., a deputy sheriff) from the county where the child resides or where the alleged offense occurred. In addition, each team must be composed of one person from the Department of Children’s Services, one representative from the office of the district attorney general, and one juvenile court officer or investigator from a court of competent jurisdiction. The team may also include a representative from one of the mental health disciplines. T.C.A. § 37-1-607(a)(2).
The teams conduct child protective investigations of reported child sexual abuse and also support and provide appropriate services to sexually abused children. The team determines the level of risk for the child and the services, including medical evaluations, psychological evaluations and short-term psychological treatment, and casework and coordination. The Department of Children’s Services is responsible for coordinating the services of these teams. T.C.A. § 37-1-607(a)(1).
See Department of Children’s Services, Administrative Policies and Procedures: 14.05, Investigation of Alleged Child Abuse and Neglect. See also Department of Children’s Services, Administrative Policies and Procedures: 14.28, Child Protective Services Investigation of Children Exposed To Chemical Laboratories for the Manufacture of Methamphetamine.
Child Sex Crime Investigation Unit
Through legislation, the General Assembly has encouraged each sheriff to establish a child sex crime investigation unit within the sheriff’s office for the purpose of investigating crimes involving the sexual abuse of children. T.C.A. § 37-1-603(b)(4)(E). To further this objective, as part of the annual in-service training requirement the sheriff and every deputy sheriff must receive training in the investigation of cases involving child sexual abuse, including law enforcement response to and treatment of victims of such crimes. T.C.A. § 37-1-603(b)(4)(B); Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.05 (4)
For additional information, see Investigation of Child Abuse under the Public Safety topic.