FARMINGTON -- Going from being a leading child advocate in Davis County to overseeing the same goal for 13 Western states has Children's Justice Center Director Doug K. Miller bracing for a challenge with his new job.
Miller, who has been with the Davis CJC for 14 years, has been named program director for the Western Regional Children's Advocacy Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"I'm looking forward to the new challenges, and I hope it's not a mistake," the 55-year-old Miller said.
Miller, whose last day with the county is Dec. 30, will answer to the Colorado office beginning Jan. 3 but will work from his Weber County home and do extensive traveling. His new duties include overseeing staff training and providing technical support and consulting work for child advocacy centers throughout 13 Western states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
"This car was running quite well," Miller said of the Davis CJC at 125 S. Main in Farmington, and those who hired him believe he knows how to fix other centers.
Each year, 350 to 400 Davis children are reported to have been sexually and/or physically abused; they are interviewed by law enforcement authorities at the center, he said.
The center offers children a home-friendly environment and soft rooms in which they can be interviewed by professionals and the interview can be videotaped unobtrusively.
The success of the Davis CJC, under the direction of the county attorney's office, Miller said, can be attributed to a competent six-member staff and professionals who use the building.
It is the credibility of the child's words in a sexual abuse case that serves as evidence against the accused offender, Miller said.
"So, it is critical how that child is asked questions, and how that child responds," he said.
Another aspect of what has earned the Davis CJC a good reputation, Miller said, is he never had his own vision of what the center should be, but rather provided the professionals using the center with what they needed.
"It will be difficult to replace the experience and background (Miller) has," said Davis County Commissioner Louenda Downs, chairwoman of the Davis CJC Board.
Downs said Miller has been a national speaker for child advocacy and has conducted extensive research using print media to create a presentation on the history of child sex abuse.
"I am not surprised he was courted to take this position," Downs said.
The 14 years Miller has been with the county have given him institutional knowledge that has been helpful in improving the interview process for victims.
Miller, with a bachelor's degree in history and psychology from Weber State University, and master's degree in educational psychology from the University of Utah, said being a former investigator of child sexual abuse crimes helped him recognize the importance of having a place where victims younger than 18 years can be interviewed in privacy.
Prior to such centers, Miller said, investigators had to improvise, at times "improvise poorly." There have been incidents in the past of potential child victims being interviewed at school in a principal's office or an empty cafeteria, and then that child was sent, possibly teary-eyed, back to class after the interview was complete, he said.
"This building has served the community quite well," Miller said of the Farmington home the county retrofitted to serve as a center 13 years ago.
Davis County now has plans to build a new children's justice center on the county campus surrounding the Memorial Courthouse in downtown Farmington, and raze the existing center.
"Somebody else is going to get the brand-new building," he said.
"The Children's Justice Center is a priority to me, and so we will be diligent in finding the best person we can to maintain the level of performance we are at," Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said.
Rawlings said Miller will be consulted in the search for his replacement.