Dave has the law enforcement perspective and the CAC passion.
As our Technical Assistance Manager, it’s Dave’s job to help assess how PennCAC can help strengthen existing CACs and develop new ones where there are gaps in services to child victims of abuse. From his 27 years of experience in law enforcement, Dave knows first-hand the difference that a CAC can make for child victims—and also for criminal investigators, like himself, who are involved in case response.
After completing his law enforcement training with the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, Dave served as a Patrol Trooper with Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg for eight years. Interested in criminal investigation, Dave was assigned to the crime unit at Troop H Gettysburg in 2003, where he worked on serious criminal offenses, including child abuse cases. Dave returned to Chambersburg in 2006 and continued to serve as a criminal investigator for the next decade. From these experiences, he gained knowledge of all aspects of case investigation, working closely with various agencies and departments to conduct all aspects of case investigation—from victim and witness interviews, to suspect interrogation, crime scene photography, collection and preservation of evidence, and writing investigative reports.
Retiring from the State Police in 2016, Dave served as Special Crimes Detective with the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office. Under the direction of the District Attorney and working with members of Law Enforcement throughout Franklin County, Dave reviewed case reports and advised on investigative next steps, prepared court orders and search warrants, conducted child physical and sexual abuse investigations, and assisted with trial preparation. As a member of the Franklin County Multi-Disciplinary Investigative Team, Dave worked alongside multiple agencies at the state and federal levels involved in responding to child abuse allegations. Dave also attended public events as a spokesperson on the topic of child abuse response and prevention.
Dave’s professional journey has been increasingly focused on CAC work. In his early years as a member of a crime unit, he learned the benefit of working collaboratively with other agencies even before a fully developed CAC model was available. To improve that local response, Dave traveled to Huntsville, Alabama where he learned about best practices for conducting forensic interviews in child abuse cases. Convinced that was the gold standard for child abuse case response, he took that framework and returned to Franklin County. Eventually, Over the Rainbow Children’s Advocacy Center was created in Franklin County as a better way to serve child victims and families. Soon after the new CAC opened, Dave was invited to join the Board of Directors and continues to serve in that role. Now at the state level, Dave looks forward to using nearly three decades of experience and a growing passion for CACs to help create a stronger statewide response to child abuse for the protection of all kids in Pennsylvania.
Dave graduated from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy as a member of the 98th Cadet Class.
A Conversation with Dave
Did you have a defining moment that set you on this professional path?
When I joined the crime unit and they assigned me my first child abuse case—involving three brothers and some of the worst allegations of sexual abuse—I was sick to my stomach. I didn’t know how I would get the information we needed from these kids. It was very different from just taking down someone’s statement. I asked my colleague how in the world do I go talk to these kids about this? And he said oh, don’t worry; you don’t have to talk to them yourself. And then he explained that the brothers were going to be interviewed at the CAC in Harrisburg, which was then called the Children’s Resource Center. At the time, I didn’t know what that meant—but it took the weight off my shoulders and it spared those kids from having to tell a strange adult man in a police uniform what they’d been through. I went and got to watch from another room while someone else, a trained expert who knew how to talk to children, interviewed these brothers. That was my first experience with a CAC—and I was just so relieved that I didn’t have to do that interview myself.
What do you love about this work?
One of the enemies of the CAC model and multidisciplinary process is the habit of thinking that says I’m established, I know what I’m doing, why would I do it a new way. I’m grateful that I’ve never had an “old” way and needed to learn a “new” way. I’ve always been a part of a team response, even before there was a CAC. I really liked being a part of that team. I wasn’t doing the interview myself, but I could appreciate the interviewer’s approach, how it was age-appropriate, why they were asking the questions the way they did. That’s why I wanted that resource in Franklin County.
What do you find the most challenging about your work?
Getting the attention of people. No one wants to hear about or talk about child abuse. It’s a bad subject. But I love talking about the CAC approach. I even have my own elevator speech and I’ve found ways to strike up conversation with community members and end up talking about what we do at a CAC and why it’s this amazing thing everyone should know about!
Is there a source of inspiration you draw on?
I could give you a short list of success stories of investigations that went well with good outcomes, that changed the life of a kid and rescued them from a really bad situation. I have some of those children’s voices in my head. In one case, a kid asked to come back to the CAC for a second interview because he felt he had more to say than on his first visit. He came back and was much more open. I was able to make an arrest, and got to stand with that child as he read his victim impact statement before a judge. Every kid should be given that opportunity to have a voice, to know there are people listening when they are ready to talk about what happened to them.
I love to hike and I also enjoy archery hunting. I love landscaping, too—any type of planting or garden bed construction. I also collect vinyl and enjoy hunting for new albums at used record stores. My favorite genre is 80’s hair metal. I have all my albums mounted on the walls…one whole room of my house is floor-to-ceiling albums!