A Jackson County attorney is the first to receive "Child Abuse Prosecutor of the Year" recognition from the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem.

A Jackson County attorney is the first to receive "Child Abuse Prosecutor of the Year" recognition from the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem.

The award, the first in what will become an annual acknowledgement of the state's top prosecutor, was presented Wednesday to Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe at the Oregon State Police Training Center.

"It's not about ego or stats or guilty verdicts, it's about what is best for the child, about achieving justice," Hoppe said, adding he was accepting the award on behalf of the Jackson County Multidisiplinary Team.

"I sincerely believe this award was made possible through the efforts of others whose work is unheralded," he said.

The MDT is headed by the District Attorney's office and includes 23 law enforcement and social service agencies. Its purpose is to coordinate law enforcement investigations with the many social aspects of child abuse and neglect.

In 2007, the team reviewed 579 potential cases that involved not only physical and sexual abuse, but also drug endangered children, polygraph disclosures and fatality reviews, Hoppe said.

"These are not easy matters to listen to on a weekly basis," he said.

Hoppe was nominated by Children's Advocacy Center Director Marlene Mish. Mish had high praise for the man she describes as "the voice of wisdom" when it comes to making sure child abusers are held criminally accountable.

"I think he is in a class by himself in a team that is in a class by itself," said Mish. "The bottom line is you can't win cases unless you have a good D.A."

Hoppe returned Mish's praise.

"The CAC as a whole has functioned in a way that is prosecution-oriented and been instrumental in achieving justice for these young victims who cannot fight back on their own," he said.

Hoppe said others on the MDT team have been generous with their time, and named key administrators in the juvenile justice system, the department of human services and law enforcement officials in his Salem speech on Wednesday.

Hoppe's praise was not only for big agencies. He said the Shady Cove Police Department regularly sends an officer to MDT meetings — although that commitment puts a strain on their resources.

Hoppe has trained reserve officers in child abuse issues for several years, and served on detective promotion boards with the Medford Police Department.

"I have been tracked down while on vacation to talk about problematic cases," he said, "and I have called detectives on their days off and asked them for help when necessary. I know that our interests coincide and we all want the same things, justice for the victims and accountability for the offenders."

Hoppe expressed his gratitude in receiving an award which recognized the work done on behalf of children for the past five years.

"I was not stuck in the child abuse case load. I sought it out," he said. "I left private practice to come back to prosecution after many years away because I wanted to be a child abuse prosecutor. There is no better job in the legal community.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.