FARMINGTON -- Expert child interviewer Travis Peterson, a Salt Lake City attorney, will receive $56.25 per hour from Davis County to evaluate forensic interviews in association with Children's Justice Center cases.
The Davis CJC, 125 S. Main St., Farmington, provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary response to the abuse of children and other crimes in which a child is a primary or critical witness.
Effective July 12, Peterson's contract with the county is not to exceed $5,512.50 over a one-year period. The county will pay for Peterson's services with a federal grant it received from the National Children's Alliance.
Peterson will meet with investigators monthly to provide them with feedback and training in their interview process to make certain the information gathered by the investigator is "forensically sound" and will hold up to the rigors of the court process, said Tanya Perkins, director of the Davis Children's Justice Center.
Because he travels around the state to various CJCs to teach the protocol of interviewing children, Peterson will be able to keep investigators' interviewing skills sharp, Perkins said.
"(Peterson) knows it inside and out. He is very skilled," she said.
The one-year contract with Peterson will give county officials the time they need to be "self-sustaining," Perkins said.
"So, by the end of the year, (Peterson) is going to train us so we can do these on our own."
The commission approved the one-year agreement July 12 at Perkins' recommendation.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said Peterson has developed an area of expertise with the interview process, which is critical in collecting the evidence needed to determine the prosecution of a child abuse case.
The attorney's office wants to make sure those decisions are based on the best information available, as crimes against children have a dramatic impact on the lives of all victims involved, Rawlings said.
"One of the most significant pieces of evidence used in these cases are the interviews," he said.
"We're trying to make sure we charge the cases that we need to charge, and not charge the cases that shouldn't be."
Taking Peterson's background and expertise, and overlaying it with the quality review work already being done at the center, Rawlings said, will "maximize" the investigation work going into child abuse cases.
Peterson will also participate in peer review work at the center.
To be accredited with the National Children's Alliance, the center needs to have a peer review component in its program, Perkins said.
In 2010, she said, 364 physical and/or sexual child abuse cases involving 911 individuals were referred to the Davis CJC.