In April, Detective Sergeant Patrick Harney was nominated for the Champions for Children Award, through The Child Center, for his tireless work vindicating children who are victims of horrific crimes.
Since 2010, Sergeant Harney have spent more hours investigating crimes against children than 95% of the Sheriff’s Office combined. “Sergeant Harney exemplifies the amount of effort needed to effectively protect the rights of children during an investigation,” said Sheriff John Cottle. “This job is very difficult not only professionally but also emotionally due to the nature of the crimes they encounter. It takes a strong willed and dedicated law enforcement professional to investigate crimes against persons in the manner Sergeant Harney does.”
Sergeant Harney is well respected by his peers and prosecutors for his investigative skills and testimony. In 2014, Sergeant Harney investigated 72 reported alleged sex crimes against children and effectively brought charges on 57 of them. Some cases have multiple victims spanning over several years. On average, each investigation takes roughly two to four weeks to gain charges. Even after the suspect is charged, there is the litany of judicial process for evidence and documentation to follow up on. The job never stops.
The amount of constant involvement and maintenance on crimes against children investigations is endless. Sergeant Harney feels it is all in a day’s work. “The job is tough but what job isn’t?” says Sergeant Harney. “Many of the victims I deal with have some aspect of mental illness, making communication sometimes difficult. Working with special needs children most of my law enforcement career, I understand patience and realize the importance of my voice in their case. I gain great satisfaction in helping the community and solving cases against children. I am blessed to do so,” said Harney.
The Child Center presents the “Champions for Children” Award annually at their Midwest Justice for Children Conference. This award goes to two dedicated law enforcement professionals, spanning 14 counties, each year.
The Child Center has the privilege of working with many professionals on difficult cases involving investigations of crimes against children. Throughout the year, and sometimes even over the course of years, forensic investigators with The Child Center observe law enforcement who go above and beyond when dealing with children and families that are victims of the most sensitive nature.
Captain Mike Merkel of the Lincoln County Criminal Investigations Division said Sergeant Harney holds himself in the highest standards and is most deserving of this distinguished award.