Law enforcement is often the first responder to a complaint of child abuse. The case typically begins with a uniformed officer assessing the seriousness of a child's disclosure and immediate safety needs, and providing the proper resources (medical, social services, shelter, etc.) to the child. Once the officer has established the probability of a criminal offense, an investigator is assigned to coordinate the criminal investigation and begin the CAST process.
Key to the success of CAST is open communication with each member of the team and a clear understanding of each team member’s function and responsibilities. Law enforcement meets regularly with the rest of the CAST team to exchange information and to explore solutions to problems. The CAST process continues to evolve to meet the needs of the child. It is law enforcement’s responsibility to:
- Ensure the child’s immediate physical, mental health and safety needs.
- Conduct criminal investigations, including interviews with victims, witnesses, and suspects.
- Coordinate with all members of the CAST team.
- File criminal cases with the District Attorney's office and/or petition the juvenile court for jurisdiction.