another jobs program for cops and prison guards!!! and it also points out the failure of the government schools. if the mandatory government run public schools would teach women from first grade on that men do not have the right to abuse them and that they should leave any relationship like this most of this stuff would not be happening.
Responding to abuse Police recognize growing role in ending domestic violence
Judi Villa The Arizona Republic Dec. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
Twenty years ago, domestic violence was considered a family affair. If police were called, they usually separated the couple, made them promise to knock it off and went on their way.
But then the state passed a law saying police must arrest domestic-violence offenders if there is physical injury or a weapon is involved.
Now, officers who once were reluctant to intervene say domestic violence is such a pervasive crime they need to be involved in stopping it. Not only does the cycle of violence invade every aspect of a victim's life, they say, but it also shapes the children who witness it, perpetuating more violence and anti-social behaviors down the road.
"It's just the ripple effect of domestic violence," said a detective in Maricopa County. "My sons and daughters who want to become police officers are going to be dealing with the same family, perhaps, 20 years from now."
Police attitudes toward domestic violence are being captured for the first time in a study, to be released today, by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. Proposed by the Governor's Commission to Prevent Violence Against Women, the study surveyed 777 officers around the state and included 31 personal interviews. The officers' names and agencies were kept confidential.
The study highlights the tremendous about-face in officer attitudes over the past two decades, but it also raises questions about officer training and education, prosecution and the state's ability to provide services and programs for victims to break the cycle of violence.
Officers say they need to respond to family violence incidents but they question whether the state's pro-arrest policy is working amid a lack of prosecution, and they often don't understand why victims go back to their abusers.
Among the findings:
Nearly all the officers surveyed now believe domestic violence is a "real crime" that warrants their intervention, particularly because of its links to child abuse, animal abuse, substance abuse and other crimes within and outside the family. Nearly 72 percent agreed they should arrest offenders even when the victim says no. Twenty years ago, if a victim didn't want the batterer arrested, police didn't bother.
Only 14.4 percent of officers felt prosecutors followed up effectively with domestic-violence cases. Statewide between January and August of this year, police made 16,880 domestic-violence arrests, but there were only 3,537 convictions. Officers said a lack of follow-up by prosecutors lessens the impact of arrest, discourages victims and emboldens batterers. And the majority said arrest alone seldom helps reduce future incidents, especially for abusers who don't work regularly or who use alcohol and drugs.
Many officers sympathize with victims but don't understand why they return to abusers. Seventy-two percent agreed "Many DV victims could easily leave their relationships but don't," and only 20 percent agreed "Most DV victims are receptive to interventions by law enforcement."
"I've gone to these cases where the woman or man - it's happened both way - (says), 'I'm deathly afraid he's going to come back and kill me,' " said a supervisor in eastern Arizona. "And you say, 'Well, we need to get you to the shelter for the evening.' (And the victim says) 'Are you kidding? I can't leave my stereo. He'll come back and bust up my stereo.' Now, how seriously can you take this person?"
Domestic violence has been considered a criminal matter since the 1980s when research first suggested that arrest would deter suspected abusers from battering again.
Last year, it was one of the most common calls to Phoenix police, with officers responding to more than 54,000 domestic-violence incidents.
State law says officers must make an arrest in cases where there is physical injury or a deadly weapon is involved. They can arrest others, at their discretion, even if they don't witness the violence.
Officers and domestic-violence experts say police intervention could break the cycle of violence, giving the abused time to file an order of protection and seek shelter.
"It's not going to save everybody the first time," said Phoenix police Detective Heather Maldonado. "But by making that arrest, it gives them one more opportunity to get out.
"We're trying to help these people. This isn't normal. You don't have to live like this."
It's also a step toward holding batterers accountable immediately and teaching children who witness the violence that it's not OK to hit.
Dale Wiebusch, director of systems advocacy for the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said mandatory arrest works best when there is a coordinated response to the abuse that includes help for the victim and prosecution for the batterer. But "nobody wants to pay for that," Wiebusch said.
"If you're there with people and you support them and you get them hooked into other programs, they won't go back to those abusive situations," he said.
But Wiebusch said that means "everybody does their job. Cops arrest, prosecutors prosecute and judges sentence. When you get consistent behavior throughout the system, we'll start making a difference."
Officers across the state complained about a lack of prosecution, saying "we can't do it by ourselves," and without mandatory prosecution, "our time, money and efforts are a total waste."
"The prosecution thing doesn't occur . . . and the officers look at it as 'This (domestic violence) can't be as big a problem as everybody's telling me," said a supervisor in eastern Arizona.
Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Patty Stevens, who is chief of the Family Violence Bureau in Phoenix, said prosecutors are taking domestic violence seriously but sometimes they simply can't make a case.
The biggest hurdle is getting victims into court. Without their testimony, it often can be nearly impossible to prove the case to a jury.
"They're in a situation where they're either afraid to testify or maybe they're persuaded not to," Stevens said. "This (suspect) may be a means of financial support. They may be in part of the cycle where things are better, and they don't want to stir it up again.
"In certain cases we may have a concern that we're putting the victim in more harm. We can never say, 'We can protect you.' That would be a foolish thing to say."
As a result, prosecutors meet monthly with detectives and they have developed protocols to encourage more detailed investigations and educate 911 dispatchers, officers, attorneys and medical personnel on what evidence is needed.
"They're tough cases for everybody," Stevens said. "The battle's worth it. There are cases where our attorneys can see they've changed people's lives. There's nothing more important than that."
The Morrison study only looked at law enforcement and did not address how the rest of the system is working. It is the first step in a comprehensive look at Arizona's response to domestic violence that will help mold future policies and efforts to better address the problem, said Phoenix police Cmdr. Kim Humphrey. Similar studies of prosecutors and judges are planned.
"You can't just expect officers to fix it," Humphrey said. "There's a whole system that has to come together to intervene in this."
The state may need to adopt a "pro-prosecution" initiative to strengthen the response of the criminal-justice system, the study suggests. More should be done, too, to encourage community involvement in preventing domestic violence and to educate police on the dynamics that drive victim attitudes and behavior.
Domestic-violence experts say it can be more difficult than some officers realize for victims to leave. A batterer may be the sole financial support. The couple may have children together. A woman whose self-esteem has been broken may not be able to fathom how she could ever find a job and support herself. Plus, abuse often is followed by a sort of honeymoon stage where the batterer may apologize and promise it will never happen again.
"Every once in a while they get that glimpse of who they fell in love with, and they go back. They believe he's going to change," Phoenix Detective Maldonado said. "But he's always going to get violent."
Phoenix police are a month away from piloting an Internet training program that includes interviews with domestic-violence victims, Humphrey said
"You want people to stop saying, 'Why is she staying there?' There are valid reasons why even if they're not obvious to you," Humphrey said.
Maldonado said that while things are "obviously better now," domestic-violence cases are increasing, and "the key is not to become lax."
"It's not a piece of paper. There's someone who needs help," she said.
"We need to keep it up and keep on fighting so the victims know we're here, and we're not going anywhere."