Seriously, who is the person who is pulling over? You know nothing about them or their moral character. All you know is that your heart rate jumped to 120 when you saw lights in your rear view. This person has a badge and a gun and is backed by plenty of other cops and the court system. Your freedom and life , from the very first moment you interact with them, are at risk. Just because they are sworn officers of the court and enforcers of the law, does not cover the character flaws that drive so many to enter law enforcement. Many are people with issues of control and power. These issues show in their professional interactions and often spill over into their personal lives. For example:
National center for women and policing
“Two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, (1, 2) in contrast to 10% of families in the general population.(3) A third study of older and more experienced officers found a rate of 24% (4), indicating that domestic violence is 2-4 times more common among police families than American families in general. A police department that has domestic violence offenders among its ranks will not effectively serve and protect victims in the community.5, 6, 7, 8 Moreover, when officers know of domestic violence committed by their colleagues and seek to protect them by covering it up, they expose the department to civil liability.7
Domestic violence is always a terrible crime, but victims of a police officer are particularly vulnerable because the officer who is abusing them:
- has a gun,
- knows the location of battered women’s shelters, and
- knows how to manipulate the system to avoid penalty and/or shift blame to the victim.5, 6
Victims often fear calling the police, because they know the case will be handled by officers who are colleagues and/or friends of their abuser. Victims of police family violence typically fear that the responding officers will side with their abuser and fail to properly investigate or document the crime.5, 7
These suspicions are well founded, as most departments across the country typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report, investigation, or even check of the victim’s safety.5, 8, 9 This “informal” method is often in direct contradiction to legislative mandates and departmental policies regarding the appropriate response to domestic violence crimes. Moreover, a 1994 nationwide survey of 123 police departments documented that almost half (45%) had no specific policy for dealing with officer-involved domestic violence. In that same study:
- The most common discipline imposed for a sustained allegation of domestic violence was counseling.
- Only 19% of the departments indicated that officers would be terminated after a second sustained allegation of domestic violence.9
- A recent study of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department found inconsistent policies and practices for officers accused of domestic violence, regarding arrests, seizure of firearms, and Employee Assistance treatment.10 There is no reason to believe that the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department is unique in this; rather, this inconsistency is typical for police agencies responding to domestic violence committed by its own members.
Although the International Association of Chiefs of Police have prepared a model policy on police officer-involved domestic violence, there is no evidence that police departments across the country are doing anything other than simply including the policy in their manuals.
The reality is that even officers who are found guilty of domestic violence are unlikely to be fired, arrested, or referred for prosecution, raising concern that those who are tasked with enforcing the law cannot effectively police themselves.5, 6, 7 For example:
- In 1998-1999, 23 domestic violence complaints were filed against Boston police employees, but none resulted in criminal prosecution.6
- The San Diego City Attorney typically prosecutes 92% of the domestic violence cases that are referred, but only 42% of the cases involving a police officer as the perpetrator are prosecuted.11
- Between 1990 and 1997, the Los Angles Police Department investigated 227 cases of alleged domestic violence by officers, of which 91 were sustained. Of these 91 allegations that were sustained by the department, only 4 resulted in a criminal conviction. That means that the LAPD itself determined in 91 cases that an officer had committed domestic violence, but only 4 were convicted on a criminal charge. Moreover, of these 4 officers who were convicted on a criminal charge of domestic violence, one was suspended for only 15 days and another had his conviction expunged.12
In fact, an in-depth investigation of the Los Angeles Police Department conducted by the Office of the Inspector General concluded that the discipline imposed on officers found guilty of domestic violence “was exceedingly light when the facts of each incident were examined” (p. i).12
The study of the Los Angeles Police Department further examined the 91 cases in which an allegation of domestic violence was sustained against an officer.
- Over three-fourths of the time, this sustained allegation was not mentioned in the officer’s performance evaluation.
- Twenty-six of these officers (29%) were promoted, including six who were promoted within two years of the incident.
The report concluded that “employees with sustained allegations were neither barred from moving to desired positions nor transferred out of assignments that were inconsistent with the sustained allegation” (p. iii).12
In 1997, the Los Angeles Office of the Inspector General conducted an investigation of the LAPD after a legal consultant named Bob Mullally leaked shocking LAPD personnel files to the press. These files documented scores of violent domestic crimes committed by LAPD officers. Mullally was so shocked by the LAPD’s mishandling of this police family violence that he decided to violate the civil protective order in the case he was working on and turn the files over to the media, in the hopes of creating change in the LAPD.
- Rather than reviewing the problem or recommending improvements, the LAPD sued Mullally for leaking the information.
- In 2002, after multiple appeals, Mullally was sentenced to 45 days in federal prison. None of the police officers he exposed were ever prosecuted for their crimes, and many continue to serve as gun-carrying LAPD officers.
Even the prosecutor in the case stated on record that this sentence was “extreme” for a violation of a civil protective order.
- Mullally is the first person in United States history to ever serve a jail term for this type of violation. He served his time in 2003, 6 years after he exposed the files.
More at the original : http://womenandpolicing.com/violenceFS.asp#notes
1 Johnson, L.B. (1991). On the front lines: Police stress and family well-being. Hearing before the Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families House of Representatives: 102 Congress First Session May 20 (p. 32-48). Washington DC: US Government Printing Office.
2 Neidig, P.H., Russell, H.E. & Seng, A.F. (1992). Interspousal aggression in law enforcement families: A preliminary investigation. Police Studies, Vol. 15 (1), p. 30-38.
3 Straus, M. & Gelles, R. (1990). Physical violence in American families – risk factors and adaptations to violence in 8,145 families. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
4 P.H. Neidig, A.F. Seng, and H.E. Russell, “Interspousal Aggression in Law Enforcement Personnel Attending the FOP Biennial Conference,” National FOP Journal. Fall/Winter 1992, 25-28.
5 Levinson, A. (June 29, 1997). Abusers behind a badge. Arizona Republic.
6 Police departments fail to arrest policemen for wife abuse (November 15, 1998). The Boston Globe.
7 Feltgen, J. (October, 1996). Domestic violence: When the abuser is a police officer. The Police Chief, p. 42-49.
8 Lott, L.D. (November, 1995). Deadly secrets: Violence in the police family. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, p. 12-16.
9 Arlington, Texas Police Department and Southwestern Law Enforcement Institute (1995). Domestic assaults among police: A survey of internal affairs policies. Southwestern Law Enforcement Institute.
10 Cassidy, M., Nicholl, C.G. & Ross, C.R. (2001). Results of a Survey Conducted by the Metropolitan Police Department of Victims who Reported Violence Against Women. Executive Summary published by the DC Metropolitan Police Department.
11 Thornton, K. (May 11, 1998). Police and domestic violence. San Diego Union-Tribune.
12 Domestic Violence Task Force (1997). Domestic Violence in the Los Angeles Police Department: How Well Does the Los Angeles Police Department Police Its Own? Office of the Inspector General.
13 Omnibus Appropriations Bill (H.R. 4278), Section 658.
14 Kime, R.C. (December, 1996). New federal gun ban tied to domestic violence convictions. The Police Chief, p. 10.
15 Culp, M.H. (March, 2000). Officer-involved orders for protection: A management challenge. The Police Chief, p. 10.
16 Ed Meyer et al. (1999, December 5). Few lose jobs. Akron Beacon Journal.
17 Model policy overlooks views of Chicago’s in-house expert (April 30, 1998). Law Enforcement News, p. 9.
18 Tobar, H. (May 26, 1997). Officer’s expunged conviction angers ex-wife. Los Angeles Times.
19 Tobar, H. (May 9, 1997). 3 Deputies go to court, regain right to carry guns. Los Angeles Times.
20 Records deleted in assault case involving Louisville policeman. (November 1, 2001). Louisville Courier Journal.
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