SMYRNA, Tenn. – Police in Smyrna are investigating more reports of child abuse this year over 2016.
It’s not a big increase but for police Chief Kevin Arnold, even one more case, is alarming.
“Nobody, nobody in this world or this country, has to endure getting slapped and getting beat and intimidated and things of that nature, nobody,” said Chief Arnold. “Especially a child.”
In Smyrna, detectives with the special victim’s unit are trained to investigate child abuse and domestic violence cases. So for this year, they’ve worked more than 150 cases, about a dozen more than the same time last year.
“It could be the child sex abuse, it could be the physical abuse, it could be the neglect,” explained Chief Arnold.
Child abuse, or neglect-aggravated, cases are up this year to 16. Last year, there were three. Child rape has also increased from six cases in 2016 to 10 this year.
Sexual battery cases have decreased dramatically from 24 in 2016 to nine this year.
There have been 29 arrests this year, including Ka Moo, who was charged with aggravated sexual battery. According to an arrest warrant, he touched a 10-year-old girl and “suggested he wanted to have sex with her.”
Rebecca Quick was charged after police say her five-year-old son was wandering in their neighborhood unattended.
Another parent, Jairo Estrada, was charged and sentenced to probation for slapping his four-year-old son, causing him to have a bloody and swollen lip.
They’re all tough cases that Chief Arnold said require special attention.
“We want to make sure we’re responding and giving the victim the adequate services that they need, and at the same time, we’re going to attempt to make a case against the perpetrator and get them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” explained Chief Arnold.
Arnold can’t point to one specific reason for the uptick in reported cases, but said it might be because more people are aware of the help provided by the police department and county partners, like the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County.
He also said more people, like teachers, are going through specialized training to recognize child abuse.