Expert: Law enforcement will need 'delicate balance' in Closs case

January 11, 2019 08:24 PM

Thirteen-year-old Jayme Closs is alive and safe after being held captive by a man for 88 days.  

According to Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, authorities are following a reunification plan that's been in place since the day she was abducted. 

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RELATED: Sheriff: Authorities recover gun consistent with type of weapon used to kill parents of Jayme Closs

Jacob Wetterling Resource Center Director Alison Feigh tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that law enforcement always hopes for a positive outcome.

"A reunification plan is what we do after that child is found so we're not scrambling" Feigh said. "We always want to make sure that she's surrounded by people with her best interests at heart, and it looks like that is what is happening."

The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center trains law enforcement for exactly this kind of scenario.

RELATED: Family has been reunited with Jayme Closs

Feigh said the first priority is making sure Jayme gets the medical and psychological help she needs and is reunited with loved ones.

But it's a delicate balance between making sure she gets what she needs and law enforcement gets the evidence they need to prosecute the case.

RELATED: Barron residents, others celebrate safe return of Jayme Closs

"That's why training is so important" Feigh said. "When law enforcement has training before there's a case like this, they understand how to be trauma-informed in their interviews.

"They understand how to be child centered. And so they're not inventing the wheel when she's sitting in front of them, they're putting their training into good use."

RELATED: Sheriff: Description provided by Jayme Closs helped lead to suspect's arrest

Feigh described what she believes the next few days will be like for Jayme.

"In general, part of it is making sure her basic needs are met with medical and psychological support, and making sure that reunification with those who love her is done in a way that is at her pace," she said.

RELATED: Suspect in Jayme Closs case identified

Feigh said it will be a slow process.

"It's deliberate," she said. "They want to make sure that things are done in a way that she is put in the center. They will be also doing interviews so they can get information for the investigation without victimizing her and her experience."

RELATED: 'This is Jayme Closs. Call 911': Man recalls scene when missing Wis. teen arrived at his door

Feigh wants the public to know Jayme has a long road ahead.

"Whenever we're dealing with reunification, sometimes people feel like this is the last chapter," she said. "Like 'OK, now we know, now the story is done.'

"We're just in the middle of the book. You know, in the sense of this is a wonderful, wonderful day and we want to celebrate that, but we also want to give her time and space to continue to write her own story and to do that in a way that makes sense for her."  

Jayme will likely be given a book called "You're Not Alone. The Journey from Abduction to Empowerment." 
          
The book is from the Department of Justice and is written by young adults who were themselves abducted as children.

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Kevin Doran

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