West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office Capt. Michaela McNeal has been recognized by the Child Advocacy Center of Baton Rouge for over 18 years of “giving voice, healing, and security to the children of West Feliciana Parish.”

The Child Advocacy Center is the sole agency in the region that provides immediate interventions for children who have been exposed to traumatic events, a news release said.

During her 25 years of service in law enforcement, McNeal has educated her community and helped the Child Advocacy Center serve children and families. Her career began as the juvenile officer for the St. Francisville Police Department. From there, she transitioned into a role as the DARE officer for the West Feliciana Sheriff’s Office. For the past 17 years, she has been working in investigations and was recently promoted to captain of criminal investigations and narcotics.

Ashleigh Fuller, of Child Advocacy Services, said, “Michaela has been working closely with our Child Advocacy Center since 2002, and in those 18 years, she has helped develop a strong multidisciplinary team in the Feliciana parishes. Though I have only worked with Michaela for the past six years, she has taught me so much about the investigative process. I have greatly appreciated all the knowledge and experience she has to share.”

One fun fact, Fuller says, is the first forensic interview Michaela participated in was recorded on VHS tape back in 2002.

“The part I enjoy the most about being a part of the multidisciplinary team is being able to talk with others involved in the child’s case. By working as a team, we can come to a conclusion together and truly understand the child’s background,” McNeal said.

When children visit the Children’s Advocacy Center, they select a button to put in a Buttons of Bravery jar. The buttons are different shapes, sizes and colors, just like the children, so the button represents them and their story. The jar of buttons provides comfort to children that they are not alone, that there have been many others who have put buttons in the jar.

“This recognition is a testament to the work that Capt. McNeal does every day for the children of our parish. She uses her compassion, knowledge and experience to bring closure and healing to children involved in these very traumatic cases,” said Brian L. Spillman, West Feliciana sheriff.