Donna ISD’s Police Sergeant Daniel Walden hopes that his expertise will help other law enforcement officers properly identify and handle sexual assault and family violence cases in the Rio Grande Valley.
Walden is one of three certified instructors in South Texas trained to conduct a Sexual Assault Family Violence Investigator Course (SAFVIC), a comprehensive law enforcement training program. According to SAFVIC’s website, the curriculum was developed with the assistance of experts from law enforcement, prosecution and victim services. The free course covers crucial aspects of law enforcement’s response to sexual assault and family violence crimes, and encourages the use of community-based resources to assist law enforcement’s efforts.
“The three-day intense investigations course focuses on the do’s and don’ts of how to investigate and handle sexual assault and family violence cases,” Walden said. “The course also covers many other topics like stalking and crimes against the elderly and people with disabilities.”
Walden conducted a training recently in Donna. Representatives from Edinburg, Donna and La Villa Police Departments participated along with law enforcement officers from Donna ISD and South Texas Community College PDs and the Weslaco Fire Marshal’s Office.
“Improperly handling a sexual assault or a family violence investigation can actually have consequences for both the offender and the victim,” Walden said. “The victim will shut down and refuse to cooperative. A bad investigation could also mean failing to arrest a suspect who should have been arrested and ends up getting away. That’s why it’s extremely important that officers get this training.”
He said now is the time to get informed. “Domestic violence within families is happening all around us in today’s society,” Walden said. “There was an incident recently in McAllen where officers were called to a home. An argument over a cell phone resulted in a man murdering his wife and stepdaughter and then killing himself.”
Walden said domestic violence, sexual abuse and stalking also occurs within schools. “Sometimes people don’t recognize the symptoms because they think the relationship is puppy love or that kids are just being kids,” he said. “Officers must take these cases seriously no matter the age of the person. If we don’t stop this from happening within the schools or out on the streets, the problem is going to get worse.”
Walden plans to continue doing his part to educate the law enforcement community. He takes this responsibility very seriously. “I was in the emergency medical services profession for 12 years,” he said. “I went to many domestic violence calls where I tried to save the lives of victims who were either severely injured or wound up dying. If I can help officers do their job to the best of their ability, then I’ve done my part.”