The Addison County Unit for Special Investigations (ACUSI) opened its doors on January 2, 2013. Donald Keeler was the Sheriff for Addison County at the time and was committed to creating a space for ACUSI. When Sheriff Keeler retired in 2019, the new Sheriff wished to expand services, so the ACUSI board and staff started looking for a new space for their organization. After considering several potential locations, in October 2019 they moved to a space in a building about two miles away from the Addison County Sheriff’s Office.
The offices offered many advantages including ample parking and quiet neighbors; most are state agencies with minimal traffic. The space is smaller but more suitable for the needs of ACUSI. The waiting room is spacious enough to comfortably seat a large family and has a designated play area. There is plenty of space for SIU Investigator Detective Ruth Whitney, Victim Advocate Martha Bowdish, and Executive Director Fred Saar as well as visiting partners and MDT members.
One feature that helped guide ACUSI’s decision to choose this particular space was a larger room that could be used for interviews. With an eye toward upgrading their current interview room recording equipment, they took advantage of the move and installed a new recording system called CaseCracker. The larger interview space has allowed them more flexibility and they’ve configured it to include a children’s area at one end and a teen area at the other.
Partners and MDT members who have used the new space are happy with the facilities. In a recent case with an officer involved shooting, the children came to ACUSI to be interviewed. The interviews went well and the investigators from the Department for Children and Families and Vermont State Police Major Crimes division believe the new location helped. The previous location would have been less than ideal with cruisers in the parking lot and a heavy law enforcement presence.
As ACUSI looks toward goals for 2020, relocating the offices and other mid-year disruptions prevented ACUSI from completing preparations to apply for Accreditation through the National Children’s Alliance (NCA); they had anticipated completing the application in 2019. Executive Director Saar contacted NCA and requested an extension, which was subsequently granted. ACUSI plans to submit their application this summer and looks forward to becoming an accredited Children’s Advocacy Center.