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Local News

April 8, 2011

Police chief talks about city’s abuse cases

CENTERVILLE — Before the Centerville City Council adjourned Monday's meeting, Councilman Bill McAfee asked Tom Demry, police chief, if he would comment on a report published by the Des Moines Sunday Register on April 3.

According to the Register, Appanoose County has the highest rate of child abuse in Iowa. And in Centerville one in 25 kids are abused.

Demry said he was interviewed for more than 75 minutes by Register reporters. He said he also provided the Register with pages of data.

Demry said the Register may have misclassified cases as child abuse when they were not in that category. Demry said efficient law enforcement, especially in drug cases, and case followup by social workers made the number of abuse case in Appanoose County look inflated.

"A lot of those cases are considered as child abuse, but they were in children where they were in a home with drugs," Demry said. "That doesn't necessarily mean that all those children were beaten or sexually abused as maybe the article made it look."

Demry said if a child is found in a home with drugs and produces a positive test, that is considered a founded child abuse case. He said a lot of child abuse cases in Centerville come from drug exposure.

Demry said in 2004 or 2005 Centerville was picked as a pilot community with Polk County for an area with drug endangered children. A protocol still in place today was developed to work together with local schools, DHS, law enforcement and medical personnel to identify and deal with drug endangered children.

"So, I think again, that's why our numbers are so much higher," he said. "And we continue with that to this today. We're still one of the only two or three in the state I believe that has drug endangered children program."

He said Centerville has its "fair share" of child abuse.

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