Tahlequah Daily Press

March 18, 2013

Cameras will help document possible abuse

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee County school resource officers are receiving a little help from a grant that will help them log evidence of possible child abuse.

Members of the Cherokee County Child Abuse Task Force on Friday presented new digital cameras to Tahlequah SROs Bryan Swim, Brian Stanglin, Randy Jordan and Marcus Sams, along with Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy and SRO Bob Lewandowski.

“The officers, in the past, have had to take photos with their phones, so having these cameras will allow them to take better-quality photos of signs of child abuse in the schools,” said Tamarkia Fisher, a Cherokee County Health Department registered nurse and medical representative for the local task force.

Lewandowski said having access to a new camera will be beneficial for investigations inside schools and out.

“Law enforcement is under-funded right now, so receiving another beneficial tool like this is outstanding for us,” said Lewandowski.

The sheriff’s deputy also patrols, in the evenings, the southern part of Cherokee County. He said he not only deals with local students during the day, but frequently runs into them on his sheriff’s patrol, so having the camera will assist in more than one scenario.

Swim said SROs in Tahlequah recently investigated a case when children were tattooed by a family member. When that case surfaced, the SROs weren’t immediately able to take photos of the markings.

“So this is going to help us document child abuse cases and any evidence we might have,” said Swim. “Having these on site will help us streamline the process.”

The 16.1-megapixel cameras were purchased through a $1,000 Walmart grant, Fisher said.