Montgomery gets its own SVU

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's one of NBC's biggest hits, "Law & Order S.V.U." and now, after combining two of its detective units, the Montgomery Police Department is getting its own SVU. It takes a special type of officer to deal with the kind of crimes these detectives see daily, a lot like the ones on the TV show.

Unlike the Hollywood set with its actors portraying life in the Special Victims Unit, this is the Montgomery Police Department's real SVU. It's a neat, quiet office of cubicles inside the Criminal Investigations Division downtown.

If it has to do with a sex crime involving children or adults, Sgt. Regina Duckett and her officers see it.

"In my opinion, I have the best detectives in this department," Sgt. Duckett boasts. "They've been doing this job a long time, some of them have made a career of it."

But this job isn't for everyone.

"A lot of people who come to special victims are hand-picked, because not everybody can work this type of case," Duckett explained. "So I sit down and talk with any prospect who wants to come to this division to make sure they understand what they see, who they may, what they may have to deal with, to make sure they can handle it."

"Some of the things that we see are obviously not what anybody else, not anybody should see, ever in their lives!" she said.

Investigating sex crimes, especially when it comes to children, can be traumatic. Montgomery's SVU works closely with the Child Protect organization.

"They have forensically trained examiners that do our interviews for us. That helps our detectives sometimes kind of not get too emotional with the victim," Duckett admitted.

Child Protect Director Jannah Bailey says the new SVU is a huge step forward for abuse victims. Those sex crimes are often technically demanding. That's when the state forensics law comes into the picture.

"We've got the best lab. The department of forensics, I think, just won an award for being one of the best labs in the country. So with that, all that coupled together, we have a very high success rate."

And despite the often gut-wrenching stories Sgt. Duckett's investigators hear and the emotional stress they share with the crime victims, the job does include a certain degree of satisfaction.

"When a case is closed and we've got the suspect, and that child or that adult is in counseling and getting on with their life, that's our reward."

In the near future, the SVU will add a state-of-the-art cyber crimes unit to assist in their investigation of child pornography, human trafficking and white collar crimes. That unit will work closely with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the National Internet "Crimes Against Children Network."

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