Police Response to Domestic Violence Calls

This week’s reading provides an overview pertaining to police response to domestic violence calls. After reading the assigned reading for week six i.e., the lesson and the peer-reviewed articles located in the lesson area of the class for this week; discuss/debate with your classmates what you have learned about intimate partner homicide. In doings so, discuss your thoughts on the risk factors associated with intimate partner homicide, per the scholarly literature. Additionally, briefly discuss what you feel may be some of the risks for an officer responding to a domestic call.

Instructions:

Each student’s answer to the question should be between 500-1000 words. A minimum of two references need to be used in the development of your answer . Also, be mindful of including references and citations whenever citing facts to support your position. APA 6th edition citations and references must be used always!

Week 6 Lesson

Police Response to Domestic Violence Calls

Table of Contents

Lecture: The Police Response to Intimate Partner Violence

Lecture: Stalking and Homicide 

Lecture: The Police Response to Intimate Partner Violence

Researchers have concluded from the findings of the Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment (MDVE) that arrest was an effective deterrent to future intimate partner assaults. The researchers reported that when the suspect was arrested, there were statistically significant reductions in re-offending in the official records of all the cases and in the cases with victim interviews. Even though five replication studies cast doubt on the effectiveness of arresting the batterer in cases of domestic violence. The findings of the Maxwell, Garner, and Fagan research provide evidence supporting the argument that arresting male batterers may, independent of other criminal justice sanctions and individual processes, reduce subsequent intimate partner violence.

So, what kind of training do Specialized Domestic Violence Response Units go through and why is it important? A typical approach of the specialized domestic violence response unit is to train officers to investigate cases as though the victim will not be available to testify at trial. To do this the patrol officers participate in specialized domestic evidence collection training on an ongoing basis. The training includes victim case studies from actual incidents responses and the specific responsibilities they have in making domestic violence arrests, treating the cases like stranger assault. Training includes mandatory arrest and primary aggressor decision making and detailed cased preparation. Additionally, a lethality or dangerousness assessment tool is used to identify the victims who are at the greatest risk but have not received the level of attention warranted.

The three basic phases to the interview process are preparation, the establishment of the psychological content, and the actual questioning. Obtaining information from the dispatcher or from officers on the scene satisfies the preparation stage. If the interview is staged at the convenience of the officer rather than a result of crisis intervention, additional preparation would include contacting agencies that have previously been involved. Record checks and witness interviews would also be considered part of the necessary preparation.

The second phase contains the extremely important element of rapport, which describes the relationship established between the interviewer and the interviewee. This relationship can be constructed or destroyed within seconds if the responder shows distaste, distrust, or condemnation of the person who is confronted. Obvious bias such as asking the woman what she did to provoke an attack, or assuming that a blood-soaked man was the abuser, are examples of what breaks down rapport and inhibits information that would benefit the officer and facilitate a resolution. Victim cooperation is consistently tied to officer attitudes. Look at the evidence and question both parties without prejudice. If a victim does not believe that he or she will get fair treatment from the officer, the person won’t bother to try. If victims won’t give information, you can’t proceed.

The third phase is the actual questioning. In addition to questions about the incident under investigation, a risk assessment must be made to determine the level of danger the batterer presents.

Next probable cause must be understood as was stated in Gerstein v. Pugh (1975). Probable cause to arrest exists when the facts and circumstances known to the officer are sufficient to warrant a reasonably prudent person in believing that the suspect has committed or is committing a crime. During a domestic call for situations that appear to be mutually combative, the police officer can look for three elements of self-defense that may be helpful in the primary aggressor determination. The police officer may ask these 3 questions to help determine the primary aggressor when mutual combat appears to have occurred. Did one person using force have a reasonable belief he or she was at risk of bodily harm? The risk is reasonable if based on prior incidents, where a recent escalation in violence has occurred, a specific threat was made to the self-defender that caused the defense posture. Was the risk of harm was actual or imminent? Was the force used reasonably necessary to prevent or stop the infliction of bodily harm? For example, a person small in stature may use a weapon to prevent the abuser from inflicting bodily harm.

When both parties in a domestic-related assault are arrested, it is called a dual arrest. Both the courts and the legislature discourage the practice of making dual arrests since it fails to protect and further victimizes the individual who is not the batterer. Same-sex relationships are particularly vulnerable to dual arrests because the police may have difficulty in determining the primary aggressor. Also, if the call is pertaining to a restraining order violation; although it varies from state to state, a large number of states make it a criminal offense to violate a restraining order. When there is probable cause to believe that there has been a violation of a restraining order, police are mandated to make an arrest in at least 33 states.

I’ll once again briefly mention the Lautenberg Amendment and its effect on military and law enforcement officers. Remember it is a 1996 law, known as the Lautenberg Amendment, and it prohibits anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or child abuse from purchasing or possessing a gun. This prohibition applies to persons convicted of such misdemeanors at any time, even if the conviction occurred prior to the new law’s effective date. The official use exemption does not apply to Sections 922(d)(9) and 922(g)(9). This means that law enforcement officers or military personnel who have been convicted of a qualifying domestic violence misdemeanor will not be able to possess or receive firearms for any purpose, including the performance of official duties.

In closing, you need to know the difference between a pro-arrest and mandatory-arrest. A mandatory arrest requires a police officer to arrest a person without a warrant, based on a probable cause determination that an offense occurred and that the accused person committed the offense. Pro-arrest laws give authority for an arrest without a warrant in cases involving domestic partners as the preferred, but not required action. An officer who fails to make the arrest may be required to file a written incident report justifying why no arrest was made.

Lecture: Stalking and Homicide

Battered women’s syndrome is based on the theory of learned helplessness and the cycle of abuse. According to these theories, the battered victim begins to believe that she or he cannot influence or escape the abuser’s violence. One rare reaction, when faced with the “reality”, is to resort to the only perceived option, that is, to kill the abuser. It is considered self-defense even though the victim may not have been in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm at the exact time that the killing occurred.

Then there are stalkers i.e., erotomania is a term that is usually associated with a stalker who has severe mental problems, including delusions. The perpetrator may actually believe that the victim knows and loves him or her. These stalkers expect the target to play the role the stalker has determined, and when threats or intimidation does not work, they may resort to violence. This stalker may continue to pursue the victim for long periods of time, up to eight or ten years. Though relatively rare (comprising fewer than 10 percent of all cases), erotomania stalking cases often draw public attention because the target is usually a public figure or celebrity. Like love obsession stalkers, erotomaniacs attempt to garner self-esteem and status by associating themselves with well-known individuals who hold high social status. While the behavior of many erotomaniacs never escalates to violence, or even to threats of violence, the irrationality that accompanies their mental illness presents particularly unpredictable threats to victims.

Then again, when threats are used thinly veiled threats are much more common than overt threats; these may rise to the level of credible threat in the face of a past or current abusive relationship. It ultimately falls on the court to determine if the action will satisfy the requirement of fear. Threats come in unusual packages that may have meaning to the stalker and to the victim alone. Asking the victim why she or he feels threatened can enlighten others. Ripped, torn, or mutilated objects that are sent signify anger and are meant to scare the victim. They may include dolls, photographs, or broken statues, to name a few. Sending black roses or a game called “Hangman” can be threatening if the victim is afraid of the stalker or believes that the gift signifies a step closer to fulfilling an earlier threat to hurt him or her. Killing or threatening to kill a family pet indicates an extremely dangerous situation for the victim. Should this occur, safety precautions should be taken and the victim should be considered to be in imminent personal danger.

Often, the offender lets their potential victim know about their presence. The purpose of the offender ensuring his/her presence and intent towards the potential victim known is to alert the victim to ensure that he or she is aware of the presence or intent of the perpetrator. Often, “stalking with technology,” stalking with technology refers to the use of technology for stalking. Some abusers install Global Positioning Systems, use cellular telephones, wireless video cameras and other digitally based devised to aid in stalking. The purpose here is to control and to intimidate the victim. For example, a note or telephone message may be sent indicating places that the victim frequents, stores that he or she shops at, and where he or she works or resides. The actions of the stalkers, therefore, assure that they get the victims’ attention and make them aware that they are being followed or spied upon. A stalker may or may not initiate conversation if seen by the victim. Following is meant to cause fear on the part of the victim and bolster the self-esteem of the assailant. Characteristics common among stalkers: Eighty-six percent are male. More than half are Caucasian and single. Most are heterosexual. Many have prior adult violent criminal histories.

The statistical link between femicide, intimate partner assault, and stalking is that more than half of femicide victims and 71 percent of attempted femicide victims had been assaulted by her intimate partner prior to having been murdered. The prevalence of stalking by intimate partners has been documented as high as 67 percent for femicide victims and 71 percent for attempted femicide victims. The most significant risk factor regardless of which partner is killed is the recorded history of intimate partner violence against the female partner. Other risk factors are the availability of guns, unemployment, and threats of deadly violence. 

The three types of spousal homicide-suicide involving older couples are Dependent-protective, Aggressive and Symbiotic:

Dependent-protective represents about half of the episodes involving elder homicide-suicide. In this category, the couple has been married for a long time and is highly dependent on each other. The man fears losing control of his ability to care for or protect his wife due to a real or perceived change in his health. 

Aggressive. Occurring in about 30 percent of elder homicide-suicide cases, there is marital conflict or intimate partner violence within the relationship. This type is more common in young-old couples, ages 55 to 65 years. The perpetrator is usually much older than the victim. Pending or actual separation, issuance of a restraining order, and threatening behavior are common precipitants. 

Symbiotic. An extreme interdependency characterizes the relationship in cases involving about 20 percent of couples where homicide-suicide occurs. One or both of the individuals are extremely sick, leading the husband to a mercy killing. The male perpetrator is often the dominant personality and the female victim is often submissive.

In closing, interestingly since 1976, the most pronounced decline has been in the number of black men killed by intimate partners, it has dropped by 83%. The number of white men murdered by his intimate partner has declined by 61%.

Reference

Gosselin, D. K. (2010). Heavy hands: An introduction to the crimes of family violence. 5th ed., Pearson College Division.

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