By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
In 2012, more than 400 children were victims of abuse in Hunt County.
Of that number, 203 were from Commerce.
This year, Commerce is on track to nearly double that with 176 children using the services that the Hunt County Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) offers.
Warren Mitchell, a Greenville detective and board president of the CAC, made a presentation to the Commerce City Council on July 16 about receiving funds from the city to help operate the non-profit organization.
The CAC is a non-profit organization that is a resource for police officers to send children who have been victims of abuse. The CAC has licensed therapists who tape a session with the child where the child recounts what happened to them, which can be used in court to prosecute the perpetrators.
In 2012, the Hunt County Commissioners Court voted to add $1 to the vehicle registration fee that was to be given to the CAC.
But the resolution also allowed a city to keep half the funds that can only be used toward its school district’s crossing guards.
Mitchell told the council the CAC needs more money to operate efficiently.
“This money is needed within the center to continue the daily operations,” Mitchell said. “To keep the doors open, we need to continue this.”
Detective Steve Scott, with the Commerce Police Department, said the CAC has been an invaluable tool for the department in handling child abuse victims.
“I don’t think there’s been a week gone by that we haven’t been to the CAC,” he said, adding he just returned from the CAC after helping a child who had been abused by her uncle.
Scott said he wants to see the CAC continue what they do for children and victims of abuse.
“We have had very good success with our prosecutor of not only charging and convicting pedophiles and sexual assaults,” he said. “If it wasn’t for these folks, we couldn’t get it done. And I hope it never comes to be where we don’t have an advocacy center to use.”
In a spirited speech, Councilman Richard Hill said he fully supports what the CAC does for the children of Commerce and Hunt County.
“This is not only benefiting the citizens of Commerce and the kids of Commerce, it is benefiting the students of Commerce ISD,” he said. “I’ve seen the good things they do in Hunt County, I’ve seen the good things they do in Collin County; and without an advocacy center, these children don’t have the necessary counseling, the parents don’t have the necessary counseling for these horrendous things done by the pedophiles.”
Councilwoman Emma Martin echoed Hill’s words and added a few of her own.
“We have many grandchildren in Hunt County and we want to take care of them,” she said.
Although the amount will vary, the CAC will now receive checks roughly in the amount of $2,000 every quarter from the funds the city receives from the $1 vehicle registration fee.