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Safe Harbor awarded grant for closed-circuit systems

Randy Conklin, Travis Johnson, Jessica Caldwell, Anthony Barganier, Kathy Smyth and Jennifer Dunkin are all on hand for the demonstration of Safe Harbor's new closed-circuit video systems, which includes portable systems for use in Lowndes and Crenshaw counties.

A new tool has been added to help in the fight against child abuse in the tri-county area.

To aid in the investigation of child abuse allegations, The Southern Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, which is a project of the National Children’s Advocacy Center, awarded the Butler County Children’s Advocacy Center (Safe Harbor) and the Butler County Multi-Disciplinary Team a $ 27,456 grant for a closed-circuit television and security system. The system is a base closed-circuit television system with viewing and recording capabilities along with two portable systems to serve Crenshaw and Lowndes Counties, which are within Safe Harbor’s service area and the Second Judicial Circuit.

At the District Attorney John Andrew’s suggestion, Jessica Caldwell, deputy DA, collaborated with Safe Harbor to apply for this grant. This system is expected to assist in the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases within the Circuit.

“We also expect for this system to assist in weeding out any false allegations that may surface. We appreciate the MDT for their continuing efforts in the fight against child abuse in our county,” said Kathy Smyth, director of the Children’s Advocacy Center.

“We also want to express our thanks to Randy Conklin of Sweet Home Theaters for installation and training of the system and Carole Wright and Debbie Baldwin of Wright and Associates as Grant Coordinators.”

The Butler County Multi-Disciplinary Team is an inter-agency committee whose mission is to investigate child abuse allegations. The Team has been in existence since the mid 80’s and is comprised of members representing Law Enforcement, Department of Human Resources, Office of the District Attorney, Child Advocacy Center, the Medical Community, Forensic Interviewer and Counselors. Forensic Interviews are reviewed by the Team and cases are then staffed and referred for services such as medical exams, counseling, extended forensic evaluations, play therapy, or mental health. Support services may be integrated so that the non-offending care givers  and siblings of the abused may also receive support  and education through this traumatic time in their lives.