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Child Abuse Investigations

The Violent Crimes Unit (VCU) conducts child abuse investigations. These detectives are trained to conduct assessments, age appropriate investigations, and interviews to determine if children are at risk.
Investigators speaking to a child

The Violent Crimes Unit (VCU) conducts child abuse investigations. This group of full-time detectives investigates various violent crimes, including child abuse. Child abuse crimes may include sexual abuse, serious physical injury, drug exposure, or child pornography. While Patrol Deputies investigate some child abuse reports, detectives handle more severe cases.

The detectives’ goal is to solve cases and expedite justice for victims; however, the nature of these reports can be difficult and complex. A typical investigation can take 6 - 18 months from initial report to case closure. 

The Sheriff’s Office and local schools remain committed to protecting children from abuse and neglect. One of the roles of VCU detectives is to conduct criminal investigations into allegations of child abuse. These detectives are trained to conduct assessments, age appropriate investigations, and interviews to determine if children are at risk.

Community resources 

  • To report child abuse:  
    • Centralized Child Abuse Reporting Hotline (855-503-SAFE)  
    • Washington County Non-Emergency Dispatch 503-629-0111 
  • Family Justice Center: 503-430-8300  
  • For more information or to get involved contact Washington County Sheriff’s Office Child Abuse Investigation Unit 503-846-2500.

Mandatory reporting

Anyone who suspects a child may be in danger should report concerns right away. In Oregon, many private and public professionals are required by law to report child abuse. These mandatory reporters include counselors, doctors, nurses, pastors, police officers, teachers, etc. 

When the mandated reporters have contact with a child who they reasonably believe has been abused or has had contact with a person convicted of a serious offense, they are required to report to either the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) or local law enforcement. DHS and law enforcement agencies regularly work together by cross-reporting and sharing information to ensure all reports are investigated by the appropriate authority.   

The Violent Crimes Unit (VCU) receives and investigates "cross-reporting" intake forms from DHS daily, documenting possible cases of child abuse. Each report requires an assessment and often a preliminary investigation. In 2020 the VCU managed 2,133 DHS cross-reports. 

Multi-Disciplinary Child Abuse Intervention Team 

There are many fields of expertise involved in the assessment, investigation, and prosecution of child abuse. Working together, the Multi-Disciplinary Child Abuse Intervention Team meets to gauge the best course of action along each step of the way.

This team includes representatives from various law enforcement agencies, the District Attorney’s Office, hospitals involved with medical assessments, schools, public health agencies, Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Services (CARES) Northwest Program, the Department of Human Services, and members of the treatment field for both persons convicted of a serious offense and survivors. This team meets monthly to assess progress and discuss sensitive cases that need greater interaction. 

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