Probably one of the most common questions I answer, and it is asked on a daily basis.
20 years ago, if the police were dispatched to a Domestic Disturbance, Fight, or Argument, the Officers would show up, separate the parties, and investigate. Many of these calls are just what you think they would be. People have maybe had a bit to drink, brought up an old problem, ex-lover, bad debt, forgotten insult, new allegation, terrible decision, yadda, yadda, yadda, and BOOM!!!! Actions Happen!
Sometimes there was an actual physical altercation. Often it is broken furniture (poor televisions seem to get the brunt of it). Slammed doors, torn pictures, slashed tires, broken mirrors, thrown food, and countless other disturbances litter these types of reports as well. But in teh end no one was seriously hurt. Back then the Polcie would most often interview all the parties, tell them to break it up for the night and leave. The phrase “Don’t make me have to come back here, or you are ALL going to jail” was uttered.
And that was the end of it.
That changed since the 80s. No longer are Officers allowed to just “break it up” and keep moving. That is because in vast majority of the of the above calls, nothing additional that was legally significant (at least at the time) happened. No one got shot or went to the hospital. But the cases where something DID happen, it was bad. People were killed, often women. Kids were victims as well, too commonly suffering injury or death. This was when Officers became more aware of Domestic Violence and how insidious the issue had become.
So the pendulum swung around to where we are now. Combined with new awareness of the harm Family Violence caused Officers received a new mandate. Basically, if the Police (or anyone type of first responder) is called ue to a domestic issue, and ANY allegation of intimate partner/domestic/family violence is alleged, someone is getting arrested. No matter what, the situation will be defused with an arrest, and no one is going to end up getting murdered on the responding officers’s watch.
I do not blame officers for arresting people as an immediate and temporary solution to a disturbance. Too many of the “y’all just go home now” cases of yore turned into funerals. Also, these arrests allow the government to more effectively track and measure domestic violence issues in society at large in an effort to address the overarching issues of DV in society as a whole.
Just know this. If the Police are called to a Domestic Violence Disturbance and anyone alleges a violent act, it is very probably (almost guaranteed) that someone is going to jail. Maybe not who you think it should be, and often the wrong person altogether. But someone is going to try on some new bracelets and take a trip to the pokey. As much as it is good for the instant situation, it is also in the best interest of the officers. As they do not like getting the call that there was a murder or assault on that family they visited last night.
Now this has caused additional problems. We see more “set-ups” than ever before as people know how to get someone arrested, and that becomes their goal. I have worked on cases where the Domestic Violence Police Call was the predicate action to the long planned divorce or other slanderous allegation. People use and abuse the good intentions of the Police in an effort to enact twisted torture on former partners or family members. That is Part of the system now as well. But that is a story for a different blog post.
Thank you for reading and please do not hesitate to call or write me if you have any issues I can assist with.