Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the Minneapolis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is pleased to announce that the Sanford Health Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center has been named as the local recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for 2016. This is the first time in the award’s history that an organization in North Dakota has received the award.
The Sanford Health Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) is committed to improving the response to child abuse and works to reduce the trauma experienced by child victims of abuse as they navigate the legal, investigative, social services, and mental health systems after an allegation of abuse. The DCAC offers its comprehensive, compassionate services free of charge to children and families who have been affected by abuse. The center uses a comprehensive multidisciplinary team approach to investigating child abuse. Professionals from social services, law enforcement, prosecution, victim advocacy, and the medical and mental health communities come together under one roof so that children have to tell of their abuse only once.
The award specifically recognizes the work of two dedicated professionals at the DCAC, Jessica Ahmann, DNP, and Shannon Hilfer. Ahmann has worked closely with child victims throughout the comprehensive full medical examination process. On several occasions, her examination and collection of information through an informal interview led directly to the identification of perpetrators who were later held accountable for their crimes committed against children. Shannon Hilfer served as the forensic interviewer for many of the child victims from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Her patience, empathy, and interviewing skills were notable during numerous investigations in which she was able to glean valuable information from a victim, often with little or no time to prepare for the interview.
The Director’s Community Leadership Award was established in 1990 by the FBI to publicly recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond the call to service by making extraordinary contributions to their communities in the areas of civil rights, terrorism, cyber, drug, gang, or violence prevention and education. FBI Director James B. Comey will formally recognize Sanford Health Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center during the Director’s Community Leadership Award ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., on April 28, 2017.