The Athens City Council on Monday approved a resolution supporting the Henderson County Crimes Against Children Task Force.
District Attorney Jenny Palmer said the Henderson County effort is one of the first of its kind in the state created to address the growing problem. Palmer said 371 children were interviewed last year after an outcry that they had been victimized or abused. This year, there had been 123 interviews since April.
“It’s important to investigate this case quickly to see that not only is the abuser brought to justice, but the child can get the services they need right away,” Palmer said.
The task force investigators will be located at Maggie’s House, which is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse.
“I supported him 100%,” Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said. “I already have three investigators, including one at Maggie’s House investigating these types of crimes.”
He said he was making adjustments within his department to appoint a fourth investigator for child abuse cases.
These investigators will receive specialized training and will only work on child abuse cases.
Hillhouse said he would like to see towns in Henderson County join the task force and eventually would like to add a few more investigators.
“Once the municipality receives the call, we would like them to call us and give us the basic information,” Hillhouse said.
In another activity, Mayor Toni Clay issued a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day and May 16-20 as Athens Police Week.
“I encourage all citizens to express their deep gratitude for the men and women who risk their lives to protect us,” Clay read in the proclamation.
Another proclamation was issued making May 2022 Athens Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month. The month of May was chosen because it is an important reminder that motorcyclists, both residents and travelers, will be on the move with the warmer weather.