With the help of a revamped Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Coalition, the Chandler Police Department and other partnering organizations are leading an effort aimed at spreading the word to residents, who they believe can play a vital role in reporting instances where abuse may be occurring.
Coalition members met Nov. 10 at the police department’s Desert Breeze substation, at the same time holding a memorial service for Detective Gary Fuller, the founder of CAPAC who died last year from pancreatic cancer.
Said Chief Sherry Kiyler of Fuller’s contribution to the program:
“It was Gary’s passion for his work that led him to say one day after the tragic death of Schala, a 3-year-old who was fatally beaten in 2009, a particularly tragic and gruesome murder (investigation) that Gary was involved with, ‘There has to be something we can do.”
With the help of Sgt. Joe Favazzo, one of the police department’s public-information officers, Fuller launched the initially modest effort that ultimately became the CAPAC organization.
Three years after the coalition’s birth, member groups now include First Things First, local hospitals, the Kyrene School District, Chandler Fire Department and forensic investigators working for Maricopa County.
“I’m so thrilled you are all still here,” Kiyler said. “It has been nearly three years; the background I want to give you is about the man who really was at the heart of the mission that all of you are now pursuing.”
Kiyler saluted the members for attending the meeting and helping to make others in the community aware of child abuse and the lack of residential reporting of child abuse.
“Gary was loved by many of our victims’ families,” she said. “…another family wrote that Gary was an absolutely amazing man with a big heart and a compassionate soul. I think that’s very true.”
Gary’s wife of 36 years, Val Fuller, also attended the meeting and accepted a framed proclamation of the coalition’s goals.
Rob Bell, chair of the coalition and children’s justice coordinator for Maricopa County, presented an update of the coalition’s efforts.
“We took a step back and re-evaluated how we were organized, and what we really wanted to accomplish,” Bell said.
“We came up with a three-year strategic plan on how to move forward.”
The coalition formally accepted and adopted its first set of bylaws to make it an official 501(c)3 non profit organization with the goal of preventing child abuse by spreading the word of awareness and increasing the reporting of child abuse, Bell said.
“Gary would appreciate your sentiments, but you all know Gary, and I think he would prefer the recognition go to somebody else,” Valerie Fuller said.
“But thank you for recognizing his work and his service; it was not only his job, but it was his passion, and I believe that all of you know that. Thank you very much for supporting his endeavor.”
For information on CAPAC and other resources to learn more about child abuse, visit http://www.preventchildabuse.us/Home.html