Shortly before I retired as a police lieutenant in 1996, it became apparent to me that the community needed to be assured that their police department had a domestic violence policy for its officers. As a 21-year veteran, I knew that the wheel did not need to be re-invented and that there were policies out there. However, what I too often found was that many police department rules, regulations, policies, and procedures concerning domestic violence concerning their own employees, would go on and on forever. It seemed, in some departments, as if the bureaucratic Nirvana has been reached. Departments, it seemed to me, wanted to shroud their responsibilities and accountability in a procedural process that was difficult to navigate and almost impossible to fathom. I felt what was needed was a clear and concise policy that would protect everyone’s rights and be simple enough to be understood by everyone. Further, I believe that any internal domestic violence investigation needs to be taken away from the department as soon as possible. This best serves the interest of credibly from the community and helps to ensure a bias free investigation. I believe that any department without domestic violence policies for their personnel have evaded their responsibly, not only to the community but to members of the department as well. I suggest that the following policies can be used as a template for departments that need them.When police department personnel are either abusers or the victims of domestic violence When any employee of the department is involved in a domestic violence incident and sworn personnel are dispatched to the scene, the following procedure shall be followed:
There should always be more than one officer and/or supervisor on the scene.
The responding officers shall include a supervisor. This policy applies when serving a restraining/order of protection to prevent abuse.
The responding supervisor shall notify his or her commanding officer or officer-in-charge from the scene on or before the end of the shift.
The commanding officer or officer-in-charge shall notify the Chief of Police from the scene on or before the end of the shift.
Copies of the investigative report and all other investigative files shall be provided to the Chief of Police and the Domestic Violence Unit within 48 hours.
If the investigating supervisor determines there may be probable cause that a criminal complaint could issue or if an arrest may be made, the information gathered shall immediately be turned over to the district attorney's office. At that point the district attorney’s office will take control of the investigation.
If any employee of the department has knowledge of domestic violence involving another employee or an employee's family member, the incident shall be reported to the employee's immediate supervisor, who shall begin an investigation into the allegations. The Chief of Police and the Domestic Violence Unit shall be notified by the commanding officer/officer-in-charge from the scene or before the end of the shift.
The provisions of this policy are intended to further the credibility of the department and are to be in no way construed as creating a standard of response or investigation that automatically assumes guilt of, penalizes, punishes, or exonerates departmental employees.It is further suggested that if departmental personnel, and/or their spouse or children, as abusers or victims, continue to believe that they have not received proper assistance and believe they need further outside support for protection or prosecution, that they contact the domestic violence office located at the nearest local United States Attorney General’s Office.