Baltimore police, prosecutors seek help from child witnesses to crime


Baltimore police, prosecutors seek help from child witnesses to crime
  1. Baltimore police, prosecutors seek help from child witnesses to crime
    baltimoresun.com
    As Baltimore endures record violence, city police and prosecutors are turning to an unlikely source to unlock crime scene clues: children.The police department and state's attorney's office will announce Monday they are partnering with trained interviewers at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center…
    Maryland (MD)

As Baltimore endures record violence, city police and prosecutors are turning to an unlikely source to unlock crime scene clues: children.

The police department and state's attorney's office will announce Monday they are partnering with trained interviewers at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center to question children who have witnessed violence or other crimes. The idea is both to help children deal with the trauma and to solve the crimes.

"Children witnesses oftentimes suffer first-hand violence," said Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby. "The post-traumatic stress, the depression, attachment issues... If we don't try to channel this in a productive way, it can be detrimental."

But the children are also potentially valuable witnesses in a city where 130 people have been killed this year and violent crime is surging, officials say.

Law enforcement officials have long worked with the child abuse center to solve or prosecute cases of sexual abuse. Now they are hoping to rely on the center more often to carefully extract information from children on a wider range of crimes.

Detectives in the police department's family crimes unit, who investigate domestic violence, moved this year to the center at 2300 N. Charles Street in Old Goucher, joining the child abuse unit. Additionally, the center's staff is doing more forensic interviews. A $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice is being used to hire a specialized therapist and other new staff to work with children, train prosecutors and conduct outreach at Baltimore schools.

Already, some children are brought to the center within minutes of witnessing a homicide or being rescued from a sex trafficking ring. Others come weeks or months later, after they've confided in a loved one at bed time or bath time, or shared their experience with a teacher or other trusted adult.

They're greeted in the waiting room by colorful murals, toys, books and child-sized furniture. Then they're escorted to rooms where specialists guide them through a forensic interview to capture details of their experience.

"This is aplace that doesn't look like a hospital or government office or police station, but is meant to be bright and cheery," said Adam Rosenberg, the center's longtime director. He points out wooden butterflies hanging from the ceiling that were decorated by children. Every day, he says he hears them singing "Let it Go" from Disney's "Frozen."

"While they're here, they are just being kids," he said.

The center — which served more than 1,000 children last year — started opening its doors 24 hours a day in 2010 and has steadily added services for youths caught up in domestic violence, trafficking, pornography and other crimes. The center first aided police in a homicide investigation about three years ago.

Mosby said the child abuse center is critical to her office's ability to prosecute cases. But the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office did not have data on the number of cases the center assists on or the outcome of prosecutions involving child witnesses.

The city's top prosecutor said she will measure the partnership's success by the children reached, the resources kids and their families connect with and the number of people trained.

"We want the number of services that we're providing to these children and their families to increase," Mosby said. "We want to see less delinquent behavior. At the end of the day, we try to get to these young people before they become a part" of the criminal justice system.

Rosenberg estimates half of the homicides in Baltimore have child witnesses. Nearly all children who work with the state's attorney's office are first seen in the child abuse center.

More than 800 such centers operate across the country. In Baltimore, every child who visits the center can see a doctor for a routine medical review or exam. The center provides yoga, art therapy, referrals for psychiatric help and trainings for camp counselors, teachers, coaches and a variety of people who interact with children.

But key to the center's work is the forensic interview, Rosenberg said.

The interviewers sit one-on-one with the children in cozy, pastel-colored rooms. They ask for details about the violence the children encountered. They use dolls and a digital white board that allows children to draw what they remember from crime scenes.

A camera hidden in the wall captures the exchange and sends a feed to a room where officers, prosecutors and social workers watch. The forensic interviewers wear ear pieces that allow the officers and others to communicate with them.

The interviewers know very little about a case before an interview begins. That helps them preserve their neutrality in the case and ask open-ended questions that facilitate dialogue.

On a recent day, 13 children were scheduled for exams, screenings and forensic interviews. Two sisters and their brother came with their mother to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases tied to a suspected abuse case. The littlest ones wore special diapers to collect urine samples while "Dora the Explorer" played on the television screen.

One of the little girls, age 2, sat on her mother's lap while they looked at the butterflies hanging from the cei…

  1. First Sunday Arts Festival to kick off Annapolis Arts Week

    Eyeonannapolis.net - Annapolis
    05.27 / 15:30 www.eyeonannapolis.net
    Now is the time for art lovers to visit Annapolis, Maryland as the City starts its inaugural  week long Annapolis Arts Week event.  The week is filled with big events in the Annapolis Arts District including  First Sunday Arts Festivals, Dinner Under the Stars, Paint Annapolis, Arts District Bounce, Whitmore Park Concerts and an Evening [&…
  2. 2 Dead, 1 Injured, After Stabbing In Portland, Ore.

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 14:46 wypr.org
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEX0J-1b_JI Two people are dead and one was injured after a stabbing on a train in Portland, Ore., on Friday afternoon. Police say the disturbance began when a man on a light-rail train "began yelling various remarks that would best be characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions." Among the subjects of his diatribe were two young women who appeared to be Muslim; one was wearing a hijab. "In the midst of his ranting and raving,…
  3. Fresh Air Weekend: Aziz Ansari; Harry Styles And Dan Auerbach Go Solo; Pamela Paul

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 13:50 wypr.org
    Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week: Aziz Ansari On 'Master Of None' And How His Parents Feel About Acting: Now that the second season of his Netflix series is out, the comic is looking forward to some down time. "Forget season three…
  4. Kushner Asked Russian Ambassador For Back Channel On Syria And Other Policy Matters

    Wbal.com - Maryland
    05.27 / 13:33 www.wbal.com
    The meeting between senior adviser Jared Kushner and Russian officials is said to have occurred during the presidential transition…
  5. Rep. Andy Harris Reacts To Washington Post's Report On Jared Kushner, Russia

    Wbal.com - Maryland
    05.27 / 13:33 www.wbal.com
    Andy Harris spoke about the Washington Post's latest report on President Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner and…
  6. In 'Shtum,' A Portrait Of Autism Drawn From Real Life

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 12:53 wypr.org
    Shtum is a Yiddish word that means silence. It's also the title of a novel that centers around three generations of men who get thrown together in a small space and can't talk to each other. Jonah, the little boy, has the best reason: He's profoundly autistic and can't speak. The story has a personal resonance for author Jem Lester, who says that while he bears no resemblance to the father in Shtum , Jonah's story has parallels to his own son. "A lot of the behaviors and the feelings that…
  7. Art You Can Wear On Your Arm? For Judith Leiber, It's In The Bag

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 12:53 wypr.org
    Judith Leiber's handbags are meant for wowing — not schlepping. They're shaped like penguins, fruits, zebras, streetcars and firecrackers. First ladies and movie stars have carried them, and now they're the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in Manhattan . "I wanted to make something that was more interesting and more special than what other people made," explains Leiber, now 96. But that also meant they weren't cheap. "I wanted to make the most expensive bags that a…
  8. Two Scientists, Two Different Approaches To Saving Bees From Poison Dust

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 12:53 wypr.org
    It's planting time in America. Farmers are spending long days on their tractors, pulling massive planters across millions of acres of farmland, dropping corn and soybean seeds into the ground. Most of those seeds have been coated with pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics for short. And despite attempts by pesticide makers to reduce this, some of that coating is getting rubbed off the seeds and blown into the air. That dust is settling on the ground, on ponds, and on vegetation…
  9. 'Man Weaves' Offer Cover For Balding Men, Cash For Black Hair Care Industry

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 12:53 wypr.org
    Robert Jenkins was only 21 when he started balding. It was a condition he'd expected given that his dad had been bald for as long as he could remember. What Jenkins did not expect, however, is that he'd have to deal with hair loss at such a young age. He wasn't prepared for it. "I had a lot of low self-esteem, I started to get depressed," Jenkins, now 28, says. "I wouldn't go to events. I would stay in the house because I was just embarrassed." About two years ago, Jenkins's wife, Jayniece…
  10. Report: Russian Amb. Said Kushner Wanted Secret Communications Backchannel

    Wbal.com - Maryland
    05.27 / 12:36 www.wbal.com
    The meeting between senior adviser Jared Kushner and Russian officials is said to have occurred during the presidential…
  11. Love, Money And Betrayal Make For Great Storytelling In 'The Heirs'

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 11:57 wypr.org
    You've seen The Royal Tenenbaums , right? I love that movie. It's Wes Anderson at maybe his third-most Wes Anderson-iest, telling the tale of a family of geniuses that live, grow, shatter and die in a magical version of New York City. It begins with a book being laid down and opened to page one: "Royal Tenenbaum bought the house on Archer Avenue in the winter of his 35th year," the narrator says, the camera cutting away, the voice fading, a gypsy cab pulling up to the curb. After that, it…
  12. Former High School Dropout Joins Peace Corps, Helps New Dropouts

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 11:57 wypr.org
    Back when Stefani McCoy was 17, she felt isolated and depressed. Her mother was raising her solo while her father battled drug addiction. One day, she decided she was done with going to school. "No one could talk me out of it," says McCoy, who soon ended up living out of her car. Eleven years later, she's in the Peace Corps, trying to help dropouts in Namibia in a similar situation. As McCoy says, "They're me in African form." McCoy is stationed in Rundu, on the northern border of the…
  13. USNA Graduation 2017 (Photos)

    Eyeonannapolis.net - Maryland
    05.27 / 11:40 www.eyeonannapolis.net
    On May 26 the United States Naval Academy graduated 1053 midshipmen under what started out as a light rain that turned into a beautiful sunny day in Annapolis. 767 were commissioned as Navy Ensigns and 259 as Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenants, and 2 as officers in the US Air Force. There were 17 foreign national students graduating from Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Costa [̷…
  14. In 'Becoming Bond,' A Look At The Man Who Was Only 007 Once

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 11:00 wypr.org
    When Roger Moore died last week at the age of 89, many tributes hailed him as the actor who'd played James Bond the longest. That isn't quite wrong, but it isn't exactly right. The span between his first 007, Live and Let Die , and his last, A View to a Kill , was 12 years, during which he played the famous spy in seven movies. But Sean Connery, who'd quit the role with one film remaining on his contract only to be lured back twice, eventually got to seven, too. That is, if you count the…
  15. Education Department Faces Deep Cuts; DeVos Faces Tough Questions

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 11:00 wypr.org
    What a week it's been for education news. Let's begin NPR Ed's weekly roundup as the week began, on Monday ... DeVos talks choice in Indianapolis It was expected to be an important speech, perhaps the unveiling of President Trump's long-awaited, $20 billion plan to expand school choice nationally. But that didn't happen. Instead, when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took the stage in Indianapolis at the American Federation For Children's National Policy Summit, she talked philosophy. "It's…
  16. Kluber shuts down Baysox in shutout loss

    Eyeonannapolis.net - Maryland
    05.27 / 10:44 www.eyeonannapolis.net
    Indians rehabbing starter Corey Kluber allowed one-hit while facing the minimum through five innings as the Baysox fell 10-0 to Akron in their series opener Friday night at Canal Park. Adrian Marin singled with one down against the 2014 Cy Young Award Winner but a double play ball followed as Kluber retired 13 straight to…
  17. Two Sisters Try To Tackle Drug Use At A Montana Indian Reservation

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 10:05 wypr.org
    There's a narrative about the methamphetamine epidemic in Montana that says the state tackled it in the 2000s, yet now it's back with a vengeance because of super labs and drug cartels in Mexico . But here on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, it never really went away. "Getting high in your car in front of the store; that ain't a big deal," says Miranda Kirk. Kirk works on the reservation, which is about 40 miles south of the Canadian border. She says no one even bothers to hide their…
  18. Foreign Policy Thinker Zbigniew Brzezinski Dies At 89

    Wypr.org - Maryland (MD)
    05.27 / 10:05 wypr.org
    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and a noted foreign policy expert and thinker, died Friday at the age of 89. His daughter, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, announced his death on Twitter and Instagram : One of his most well-known accomplishments came in 1978, when Brzezinski helped President Carter reach an agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to secure the Camp David peace accords between the two…
  19. Marisnick, Beltran, Musgrove Lead Astros Over Orioles 2-0

    Baltimore.cbslocal.com - Maryland
    05.27 / 03:57 baltimore.cbslocal.com
    Jake Marisnick and Carlos Beltran each homered to back a solid start by Joe Musgrove, and the Houston Astros beat the Baltimore Orioles 2-0 on Friday…
  20. AAA Projects Highest No. Of Md. Drivers For Memorial Day Weekend In A Decade Plus

    Baltimore.cbslocal.com - Maryland
    05.27 / 03:57 baltimore.cbslocal.com
    Memorial day weekend is here And thousands of Marylanders are heading out of…