(Really) understanding domestic violence
|Concerning the issue of domestic violence many women's rights and men's rights groups continue to insist their view is absolutely right and the other side is absolutely wrong. However, there is one proviso on which both often do agree. They seem convinced that police officers have little real understanding of the issue. In fact many domestic violence "experts" continue to believe that police officers do not have a clue when it comes to domestic violence.
Many of the earnest and honest contributions by police officers are regularly dismissed as nonsense. These "experts" cite as proof of the disinterest of police officers, documentation that police departments in the early 1960s and 1970s had "hands off" policies when it came to intervention into what was then labeled family disputes. Evidence, or so they say, is presented that police officers rarely would make an arrest when they responded to these types of calls. And in fact their data is correct.
What many women's rights and victims' advocacy groups do not understand is that these much criticized "preserve the family" policies and procedures of police departments were not designed and instituted by police departments or individual police officers. In the reams of treatises, studies, and books that are critical of these early police responses to domestic violence the real culprit is seldom revealed. Police officers of those times were responding to "family disputes" as they had been trained.
It was the United States Department of Justice that instituted, paid for and often provided this type of training. This "hands off" or "mediation on the scene" procedure that angered so many women's rights and victims' advocacy groups was a procedure that was instituted by criminologists, sociologists, and psychologists who were the domestic violence experts of their time. Ironically, years later it would be the Department of Justice, because of political pressure from some women's rights and victims' advocacy groups, who would point the finger of blame at the police for not "doing their job." Women's rights and victims' advocacy groups are correct concerning the low numbers of arrests by police officers during this period. It is true that there were few arrests made when the police responded to this type of call. These critics of the police pointed their collective fingers of blame toward the right culprit this time, but for the wrong reason. What critics ignore is the fact that it was not police policies or lack of police officer's concern with victims that accounted for the low arrest numbers.
The majority of domestic violence calls by the police involved misdemeanors and at that time police officers had no powers of arrest for unwitnessed misdemeanors. When the law was changed to allow for arrests by police officers in unwitnessed misdemeanors, many women's rights and victims' advocacy groups would again claim the police officers were still not making enough arrests. They would overlook or ignore fact that police officers can not arrest someone who is not there. The majority of the time the perpetrator had fled the scene before the police arrived. When the police did arrive there were often claims by everyone at the scene that nothing had happened and there was no probable cause or evidence to indicate that something did occur.
If you have information that others need, please feel free to place it here. This is not a site for complaining or criticism with also presenting a remedy. Please, if you are going to write what is wrong, include what is right.Simply defining the term domestic violence still causes a great deal of debate. How do we accurately provide intervention, study or research the issue if we will not agree on definition. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I hope to start by providing a definition that few can and none should argue with. Until then feel free to add what you want.
Add your comments to the discussion on Richard Davis's column in the Domestic Violence forum
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