On Saturday afternoon, February 8, 2014, Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell appeared at the Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center (LACAC) in Branson West, Missouri, with Senator Roy Blunt, Stone County Prosecutor Matt Selby, Taney County Sheriff Jimmie Russell, and other area law enforcement officials. Blunt held a meeting there to ask questions about the importance of the LACAC in law enforcement investigations, and to address the need to secure funding necessary to keep child advocacy centers all across the county open and operating.
“Senator Blunt is clearly well-informed about the services offered by child advocacy centers all across Missouri,” says Merrell, “and the questions he asked of those of us working closely with the LACAC demonstrated his strong understanding of the significance of those services.”
The Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center in Branson West, through its work with law enforcement and Children’s Division investigators, referred about one investigation every two weeks to the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office last year. The same center regularly interviews children as a part of investigations that are ultimately referred to the Stone County Prosecutor’s Office, also. In addition to referrals from interviews done at the LACAC, Merrell points out that his office regularly is referred cases containing child interviews from the Child Advocacy Center, Inc., in Springfield, Missouri – and, less regularly, from other centers throughout the United States.
“From our meeting, it’s clear that the Senator recognizes the importance of these centers in combating child abuse,” says Merrell, “and that these centers require money to operate. I’m grateful for his efforts to fund them.”