Community Spotlight Member: Detective Robert Wells

 
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        Detective Sergeant Robert Wells has served with the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Department for over twenty years, contributing much of his time, efforts, knowledge, and resources to serving and protecting the Lapeer County Community. In this capacity, he has been responsible for the investigation of all manner of crimes that take place in Lapeer County including homicide, fraud, thefts, and various types of assault.  Over the past five years he has concentrated his efforts and focus primarily on the investigation of sexual assault, which has led to his involvement with the Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer County (CAC Lapeer). In 2016, he received CAC Lapeer’s Officer of the Year Award and in 2017 was elected as Vice President of CAC Lapeer’s Executive Board. He is also the Training Chair on the training committee of CAC Lapeer’s Multidisciplinary Team. Needless to say, D/Sgt. Wells has always gone the extra mile and has put forth an endless amount of effort to positively impact the victims and families that we see here at CAC Lapeer as well as the Lapeer County Community.

            As mentioned above, D/Sgt. Wells has concentrated much of his efforts to serving victims of sexual assault, specifically child sexual abuse cases. With his knowledge, resources, expertise and compassion, he continuously provides vital resources and information to CAC and the surrounding community. In the section below, D/Sgt. Wells reflects on his experience serving on CAC Lapeer’s Multidisciplinary Team and the importance of a “Team Approach”:

Victims of sexual assault, more so than victims of any other type of crime, have gone through horrifying experiences that may change their perception of themselves, the people around them, and the criminal justice system.  Many victims of sexual assault harbor feelings of profound guilt, shame, fear, and resentment.  Often times the perpetrators of sexual assaults are family members of the victim.  In such cases, the victims are often pressured by family members to deal with the assault within the family; not to involve the police.  In cases where this family component exists, the victim’s sense of self-worth can be further deteriorated by the fact that the family has seemingly chosen the perpetrator over the victim.

A victim who comes forward and reports a sexual assault will face fear, uncertainty, and scrutiny throughout the investigative and prosecutorial process.  For many victims, this may be their first encounter with the police, a prosecutor, a judge, and the court process.  During the court process, the victim will have to sit in the same courtroom with the perpetrator a mere fifteen feet away.  This process can be nearly as foreboding as the assault itself.  If handled improperly, the police, prosecutor, and/or investigative process can inadvertently compound the victim’s anguish through a showing of lack of empathy and understanding for the victim.  Quite often, as dictated by human nature, police and others involved in the, “The process” can unintentionally become desensitized to the experience of the victim.  This desensitization can be devastating to a victim who feels the police didn’t give her the appropriate level of empathy and/or understanding, or failed to give his or her case the appropriate level of attention. “

He goes on to say:

“The Children’s Advocacy Center in Lapeer seeks to eliminate as many negative aspects of the investigative and court process as possible.  Advocacy Center employees are part of a multi-disciplinary team committed to providing an unmatched level of care and concern for child victims of sexual assault.  The Advocacy Center becomes part of the investigation very early on in the process by facilitating medical examinations, victim interviews, and counseling for victims and their families.  Throughout the process, a team approach is employed in the handling of all cases and therefore many different points of view are expressed.  This, “Team” approach tends to ensure that the investigation is more comprehensive and the victim’s needs are met more thoroughly.

Many police officers get into this line of work to help people.  Unfortunately, as many police officers will attest, over the years, that goal can get lost somewhere in the pursuit of the perpetrator, the suspect, the bad guy.  Witnessing and being part of the caring attitude demonstrated at the Advocacy Center has helped shape me into who I am today.  It has also reminded me why I got into this line of work in the first place.”

         Through his diligent and caring efforts to advocate for these children and their families, D/Sgt. Wells has provided a safe and supportive environment to, not only the CAC, but also the community. Whether it be working directly with the children and their families who have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse, or contributing to the CAC by providing donations through his self-created Lost in the Woods event, volunteering his time at numerous CAC events, and planning for future growth and trainings for CAC Lapeer, D/Sgt. Wells has demonstrated his unwavering support and commitment to the mission of the CAC.  He is more than a hard-working Law Enforcement Official, he is also a caring and compassionate community member who strives to make Lapeer County a better place. The Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer County would like to extend our deepest gratitude to D/Sgt. Robert Wells for being a driving force in lighting the way for a child's future.