Public Awareness and Cross Training Legislative measures alone are not the answer. A priority needs to be placed on educating the general public regarding the life-altering dilemmas that children face who have no choice in riding with an impaired driver. Additionally, there needs to be an emphasis on reporting incidences to law enforcement and appropriate child protective service agencies. There is a critical need to provide training and cross training to educate law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, attorneys and those involved in child protective service agencies on the problems and serious consequences resulting from adults drinking alcohol and driving impaired with minor children in the vehicle. They all play a crucial role in addressing these problems and must work together to understand the needs of the other to protect these children from death and injury. Increased awareness of the problem can lead to greater emphasis on enforcement, prosecution and meaningful judicial disposition of these cases. In addition, this will help lead to an acknowledgment throughout the entire system that this is a form of child abuse. Formal Training Sessions For the law enforcement community, the following tools should be used to increase officer awareness of the problems surrounding DUI/DWI child endangerment and related child abuse issues. • New Police Officer Academy Training Sessions: Police academy training sessions often contain a block of instruction on DUI/DWI case enforcement, Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) and preparation and prosecution of DUI/DWI cases. These training sessions should include a segment on the problem and consequences of DUI/DWI child endangerment and effective enforcement and prosecution of these cases. • In-Service Law Enforcement Training: This training takes place every one or two years for all incumbent officers and is generally mandated by state police officer authority oversight commissions. A component of this training should include updates on DUI/DWI child endangerment issues and any changes in the laws. Informal Trainings and Briefings • Prosecutor Updates: Prosecutors’ offices periodically offer briefings to law enforcement agencies within their jurisdiction to update officers on changes in the laws and to improve case preparation and prosecution. Prosecutors should take advantage of these briefings to re-emphasize the need to properly charge these cases when the facts of the case support the charge of DUI/DWI child endangerment. • Roll Call Briefings: These briefings provide a periodic method of distributing information among officers within a department or agency. Special emphasis on enforcement of child endangerment laws should be an on-going component in these briefings.
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