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Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council
302 W. Washington St., Rm. E-205
Indianapolis, IN 46204
David N. Powell
Since his election in 2007, Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher G. Gaal has been committed to fair and equal justice before the law, while professionally serving the needs of crime victims. Gaal has been a driving force behind several ground-breaking local partnerships to address important public safety issues that have enhanced the quality of life in the community.
In 2009, Gaal organized the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), helped create a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program at I.U. Health Bloomington Hospital, and designated a sex crimes deputy prosecutor to specialize in handling challenging sexual assault and child sex abuse cases. Gaal also developed several sexual assault prevention efforts focused on educating Indiana University students about “consent.” One such program, “Blame it on the alcohol”, won a leadership award from the I.U. Commission on Personal Safety.
Gaal worked to develop a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) to serve the needs of children in Monroe County, and was successful in helping Susie’s Place to open its doors in 2010. Susie’s Place now provides a trained professional to conduct forensic interviews of child victims and witnesses in a comfortable, neutral, child-friendly environment. The Prosecutor’s Office continues to participate in a multi-disciplinary team to ensure that cases involving child abuse and neglect are thoroughly investigated using best practices. The creation of a child advocacy center to serve the local community has significantly strengthened our ability to nurture and protect children by ensuring that professionals and agencies work together effectively to provide comprehensive services. Gaal is currently working with the local medical community to expand the SANE program to provide forensic pediatric examinations for cases involving child victims of sexual abuse.
To better respond to youth at risk of dropping out of school, Gaal proposed a Truancy Court. This effort won the 2009 Educator of the Year Leading Light Award as an outstanding and innovative program that enhances the local education community. Gaal also created the “Live Better” campaign to help young people appreciate the many benefits of high school graduation. He helped organize a local dropout prevention summit and an ongoing community coalition to better coordinate resources serving youth and to boost local graduation rates and help kids prepare for successful futures. Gaal also created the “Children & Technology” guide to help parents develop their own rules for safely monitoring and setting limits on the use of technology by their children. Gaal developed the “Never Leave a Child Unattended” campaign to address the potential harms including the threat of abduction, heat stroke, wandering off, and drowning.
Another major focus for Gaal has been issues affecting the elderly. Gaal produced educational materials designed to prevent financial exploitation, home improvement fraud, identity theft, and also to assist in hiring an in-home caregiver and establishing adult guardianships. Along with the Area 10 Agency on Aging, in 2015 Gaal helped develop a Volunteer Guardianship Program to meet the needs of indigent adults who lack the capacity to manage their own affairs – such as those with dementia or developmental disabilities. Gaal is currently active as a leader at the state-level to encourage Indiana to fix a broken Adult Protective Services (APS) system that is overworked, understaffed, and underfunded.
Gaal created the “Get a Ride!” prevention campaign to discourage drinking and driving, and worked with I.U. Health Bloomington Hospital to develop an expedited blood-alcohol testing protocol to better enforce drunk driving laws. Gaal also led the creation of the Monroe County Pharmaceutical Safe Disposal Program to provide a safe method to dispose of unused, unwanted and expired prescription drugs – including controlled substances. This program received the 2013 AIC Local Government Cooperation Award.
Gaal worked to address the needs of criminal defendants suffering from serious mental health issues through the Mental Health Review Team coordinated by the Prosecutor’s Office. Gaal worked with others in the local criminal justice system and in the community to expand this team into a Mental Health Court in 2014. This important partnership now provides problem-solving resources to better address the needs of mentally ill criminal defendants in need of intervention, treatment and ongoing supervision.
In 2015 Gaal worked with community stakeholders to expand the Prosecutor’s Office Child Support Program to include new problem-solving resources to better address job training and employment skills, and mental health issues including drug/alcohol addiction treatment. This initiative was recognized with an award for “Outstanding Outreach Efforts” by the Child Support Division at the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Chris Gaal places the highest priority on preventing crimes of violence, including domestic violence, public safety issues affecting children and the elderly, and improving the criminal justice system’s response to those suffering from mental illness.
Gaal received the 2014 Sharon Brehm Alcohol Awareness Award from Indiana University, the 2010 Outstanding Legal Professional Award from the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault (INCASA), the 2009 Visionary Leader Award from the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, and the 2008 Outstanding Service Award from the IU Campus-Community Commission on Alcohol.
Chris Gaal is a member of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) Board of Directors, and the IPAC Elder, Delinquency, Domestic Violence and Sex Crimes Committee. He served as chair of the IPAC Board of Directors from 2012 to 2013 and received an award for Outstanding Leadership in this capacity. Gaal has also served on the Foundation of Monroe County Community Schools Board of Directors, and the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s Franklin Initiative Advisory Board.