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Department of Children and Families Releases Findings On Bell Case


The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has released the preliminary findings of a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team following the Don Spirit shooting in Bell, Fla.

Interim Secretary Mike Carroll announced the findings on Wednesday, Oct. 1.

The CIRRT assessment found that the investigations and interactions with the Spirit family over the last eight years did not sufficiently identify the chronic issues faced by the family. The team also found that there was no evidence to suggest that anyone, at any time, could have predicted Spirit was capable of the murders.

The CIRRT was deployed after 51-year-old Don Spirit shot and killed six of his grandchildren, his adult daughter and himself on Sept. 18. The team was sent to discern the nature and efficacy of DCF’s involvement with the family and assess potential issues, according to the report.

Carroll also outlined five immediate system-wide improvements that would be implemented within the DCF.

The five actions being implemented following the assessment include:

  •  An immediate retraining of all investigative staff in the Chiefland office located in Bell who were involved in the Spirit case.
  • Requiring new, mandatory statewide training for all Child Protective Investigators and supervisors on fact gathering prior to the start of an investigation
  • Requiring safety practice experts to conduct monthly consultation audits between supervisors and line staff to ensure adherence to the Safety Methodology.
  • Increasing the utilization of the Rapid Safety Feedback system from 70 percent to 100 percent by the first quarter of 2015.
  • Expanding consultative reviews of all open child protective investigations for children, ages three and under in Dixie and Gilchrist counties to include 272 cases statewide that have chronic, longstanding family issues.

 All of these will be put into action by the first quarter of 2015.

View the full CIRRT report here.

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