The Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations (CUSI) is a multi-agency task force providing criminal investigative services in response to reports of sexual assault, other serious sexual offenses and serious child abuse and neglect. As a collaborative unit, CUSI works in conjunction with the towns and local police agencies within the borders of Chittenden County, as well as with prosecutorial entities, medical experts, the Department for Children and Families, and Victim’s Advocate groups to better investigate, prosecute, and intervene in situations of abuse. CUSI operates on a referral process, and receives reports of sexual offenses or serious child abuse and neglect from partners throughout the state. In promoting professional collaboration among law enforcement agencies and victim care providers, CUSI prioritizes the multi-faceted needs of a child or adult victim. Within the community, CUSI promotes education, advocacy and awareness regarding the prevention of abuse at all levels. The Unit strives to perform its mission lawfully and with intelligence, dedication, fairness, compassion, and competence while insuring special sensitivity to the needs of victims.
The Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations was formed in 1992. The goal was to create a task force comprised of The State Attorneys’ Office, local law enforcement, social services and victims’ advocates. The concept of a multi-disciplinary coordinated team approach was new, but it quickly won the endorsement of law enforcement throughout the county. The intent was to provide in-depth, specialized investigations and prosecutions in relation to sexual abuse crimes and serious child abuse.
Funding for such a task force required a contribution from every town and police department in the county. Contributions were toward the effort were made in a variety of ways, from providing investigators, cruisers, and equipment to contributing money or a functional facility. It was also decided that a policy board would be created to oversee the overall functions of the unit.
From these humble grass-roots beginnings, CUSI has proved a critical worth and formidable investigative power for over two decades, creating a precedent for other regions in tackling complex cases of abuse.
The CUSI team continues to tackle reports of abuse, and has expanded it’s investigative capabilities to include human trafficking and internet crimes. While CUSI’s commitment to justice has remained the same, the context within which CUSI operates has continued to evolve with the rise of technology and expanded networks of addiction and drug abuse in Chittenden County and the State of Vermont. With a multi-disciplinary team of investigators from agencies around the county, comprised of police detectives, a DCF investigator, a State’s Attorney, a Victim’s Advocate, and a Director for the Children’s Advocacy Center, CUSI continues to focus outward on outreach and prevention efforts to quell the tide of abuse in Chittenden County.