the most common violent crime for which police officers are arrested
May 25, 2019 8:56 PM   Subscribe

If domestic abuse is one of the most underreported crimes, domestic abuse by police officers is virtually an invisible one. It is frighteningly difficult to track or prevent—and it has escaped America’s most recent awakening to the many ways in which some police misuse their considerable powers. Very few people in the United States understand what really happens when an officer is accused of harassing, stalking, or assaulting a partner.
posted by Cozybee (16 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

A letter from Kelly Sundberg to the police officer who answered her call the night her husband broke her foot.

(Kelly Sundberg wrote an essay, it will look like a sunset, about the abuse, discussed previously)
posted by Cozybee at 9:02 PM on May 25, 2019 [14 favorites]

Tingle recalled Martinez telling her that his ex-girlfriend was a “vindictive female” who was making up vicious lies in order to take his child.
Whenever I hear a man use "female" as a noun, referring to a human being, alarm bells start ringing in my head.

I've only known a handful of cops personally, so I know it's not a big enough sample to make generalizations about the entire profession, but every one of them had some kind of messed-up attitude about women.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:43 PM on May 25, 2019 [59 favorites]

One potential solution is to establish a mandatory procedure to be followed when an officer is accused of abuse, covering everyone from the responding officer to the chief. “You cannot treat this case like any other case,” said Wynn...
...Ultimately, Wynn believes that the most effective solution of all is to screen prospective police officers for any history of domestic violence or sexual misconduct. He also advises departments to check whether they have protective orders anywhere they’ve lived or worked.

They're not doing this already? How can they not be doing this already? How can they justify continuing to not do this stuff?

Anyhow, great read, really appreciated it. Especially the stuff about why law enforcement training in particular can empower abusers.
While I'm sure the details are slightly different, my understanding is we have a very similar problem with cops and domestic abuse here. Probably a lot more than 18% of officers, I'd guess.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 12:13 AM on May 26, 2019 [19 favorites]

From the article:
By the passage of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which poured more than $1 billion into shelters and law enforcement training, the U.S. was finally starting to treat domestic violence as a crime.
This is perhaps a good place to remind people that the Violence Against Women Act requires periodic reauthorization. It expired in December 2018, was briefly extended by a short term spending bill in January, and expired again in February 2019.

Reauthorization was passed in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in April but the Republican-controlled Senate has not acted to reauthorize (nor is it clear that the reauthorization would be signed by the president) so programs and money previously available under the act face a very uncertain future.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:47 AM on May 26, 2019 [48 favorites]

Thank you for posting this!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:52 AM on May 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another complication is the 1996 Lautenberg Amendment, a federal law that prohibits anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse from owning a gun. The amendment is a valuable protection for most women. But a police officer who can’t use a gun can’t work—and so reporting him may risk the family’s livelihood as well as the abuser’s anger.

Once again, the idolatry associated with guns in the US and lack of a robust social safety net produce predictably bad results.
posted by TedW at 6:58 AM on May 26, 2019 [16 favorites]

This is an excellent post. Does anyone have a direct link to the policy document that the org developed for police departments to investigate a police officer involved in domestic violence? The link in the article appears to be broken and is like to ask my local police department about it.
posted by CMcG at 9:45 AM on May 26, 2019

But a police officer who can’t use a gun can’t work

If only there were literally any other role in public safety that didn’t require a person to be ready to kill at a second’s notice.
posted by Etrigan at 10:53 AM on May 26, 2019 [34 favorites]

Fascinating that this guy had eerily similar “domestic” issues with two women, nearly simultaneously, and still managed to hold on to the belief that he was the victim. No mention was made about birth control methods, but two accidental pregnancies within a short time window seems suspicious as well.

When deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy, I’d advise not thinking of the best-case scenario of making a rocky relationship work for the benefit of a potential child, but rather the worst-case scenario of custody hand-offs and battles. What would they be like as a partner in that scenario? Would you be stressed out of your mind during the times your child was with them, a demonstrated abuser?
posted by mantecol at 11:45 AM on May 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

Forty percent, self reported abusers. Real numbers likely higher.
posted by nofundy at 1:41 PM on May 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

A woman I dated in the 90s had been sexually assaulted by a coworker of her father, but she never reported it, because her assaulter was a cop, and so was her dad. Even years later sometimes we'd be hanging out somewhere and one of the officers, her assaulter or a friend, would randomly cruise by "just to check on her". I've since moved far away from that town, but she lives there still. I can't imagine.

I wish I could say that I've met an officer of the law who was a genuinely decent human being. In forty-odd years and multiple encounters across half a dozen states, I'm not sure that I have. Maybe we have some among us here, and if so I hope they'll speak up and help us understand why these problems are so widespread. ACAB is overly reductive and rude to boot, but as a general rule of thumb to bear in mind when dealing with American police, you could certainly do worse.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:15 PM on May 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

I think it’s a tricky one. The police force obviously has a need to keep itself strong, to maintain order. If it allowed unsubstantiated claims to shut down officers’ careers, it would quickly be down quite a few officers. (Imagine how many people have vendettas against cops.) And as the article notes, there are inherent conflicts-of-interest involved in the investigation phase, when a cop has to investigate a former, or perhaps future, colleague or superior.

But on the other hand, once an officer gets wind that they’re somewhat above the law, it could well lead to a cascade of bad behavior. I hope that modernized policing technology will help, though it will bring with it a new crop of problems. Better pre-screening sounds like an obvious next step. I’m glad this issue is being brought to light, in any case.
posted by mantecol at 3:58 PM on May 26, 2019

think it’s a tricky one. The police force obviously has a need to keep itself strong, to maintain order. If it allowed unsubstantiated claims to shut down officers’ careers, it would quickly be down quite a few officers. (Imagine how many people have vendettas against cops.)

Did you really just 'what about the men cops?'
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:17 PM on May 26, 2019 [16 favorites]

1) Being that this article is about domestic violence, musing about how many people have vendettas against the police is pretty tone deaf.

2) Police have power. Power often leads to abuse.
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:00 AM on May 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

Awhile back, I was looking through this database created by The Guardian to track incidents of people killed by police in the U.S. (2015, 2016). A lot of men, mostly men. A lot of POC. I was curious and limited it by gender to women and what you find there pretty quickly is numerous women killed by their police officer husbands, boyfriends, family members. Examples: Greta Kurian, Rebekah Pearce, Mistie Reynolds, especially harrowing is this murder of Joyce Quaweay.
posted by amanda at 8:45 PM on May 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

A friend of a friend, in the midst of watching her house burn down (and be attended to by the JV firefighters, which did not help things), was tackled to the ground and punched because she was in shock and trying to save something. The justification was she was putting herself and first responders in harm's way. She was charged with something, can't remember what, but it would have likely been enough to end her career. It was handled extremely poorly by the sheriff's office, who refused to admit any wrongdoing. It didn't help that I live in a Blue Lives Matter part of the country where LEOs can do no wrong, which, ugh.

I later learned that the officer who did this has a record of domestic violence. I don't think that the officer's escalation of the situation is directly related but it does make sense to me that someone who thinks it's fine to be violent with his female partner would not think twice about being violent in this situation.
posted by emkelley at 11:18 AM on May 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

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