Officer-involved domestic violence

Even though officer-involved domestic violence (OIDV) happens on a daily basis around the country, I don’t think people see the totality of it when it comes up once in awhile when there’s an officer-involved murder suicide. Studies show that typically allegations of domestic violence are not cause for taking an officer’s gun away while there is an investigation – rather “most departments across the country typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report, investigation, or even check of the victim’s safety.

“This “informal” method is often in direct contradiction to legislative mandates and departmental policies regarding the appropriate response to domestic violence crimes. Moreover, a 1994 nationwide survey of 123 police departments documented that almost half (45%) had no specific policy for dealing with officer-involved domestic violence,” according to the National Center for Women & Policing.

It’s mind boggling that these (mostly) men get away with these kinds of crimes. I didn’t address the case from Gresham, Ore. in this piece but in the Jeffrey Grahn murders/suicide this sheriff from Clackamas County shot his wife, two of her friends and then himself outside of a bar in February, 2009. It shook up the community for awhile but it’s essentially forgotten once other news stories come up to take its place.

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office had NO INTERNAL POLICY at the time to address officer-involved domestic violence. It’s currently tasked a committee with researching best practices around hiring for the Sheriffs’ Office and has tagged on the domestic violence issue for committee members to come up with a solution for officer-involved domestic violence.

Washington State is the only state in the nation that requires law enforcement agencies to have a policy regarding internal domestic violence. That came after the 2003 murder/suicide of Crystal Judson and her husband — David Brame  — the then Police Chief of Tacoma.

In 2003 the International Association of Chief’s of Police created a model policy specifically to address OIDV. Since then some agencies have adopted this policy or created their own — however, those who have are in a very, very small minority.

In the story published on Friday by Women’s eNews talks about the issues around this topic. I interviewed Dave Thomas, a former police officer who is currently with Johns Hopkins University in the Public Safety Leadership Program. I think he summed up why OIDV is so different from a typical case of domestic violence. “If an abuser is in law enforcement he is a batterer with a Ph. D. in power and control . . . that victim is in double jeopardy,” he said.

Check out the story on Women’s eNews this week and support the cause on Facebook and Twitter.

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