Target: United States Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder
Goal: Urge police departments to properly handle domestic violence cases involving police officers.
Police officers who abuse their spouses are being unfairly protected from due process, leaving their victims without justice. According to the National Center for Women and Policing, at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence compared to 10% of families in the general population.
It’s no secret that police officers live and behave as if they are above the law. Stories of police brutality and wrongful shootings have become increasingly common in recent years. What we rarely hear about, however, are the reports of domestic violence that rarely make it outside of the homes of police officers.
When the spouse of an officer calls the police, they are effectively reaching their husband’s colleagues. In the majority of these cases, the officers who get the call fail to document the report of abuse and they almost always operate with extreme bias.
Cases like that of Michelle O’ Connell in St. Augustine paint a pretty disturbing picture of how officer-involved incidents are often handled. From the moment the first 911 call was made, to the day the case was closed, her death was treated as a suicide. The victim’s husband, officer Jeremy Banks, was immediately relieved of any guilt. Four hours after the shooting, it was ruled a suicide. This isn’t to question the innocence of Banks, but to point out the lack of due process when a department has to decide between enforcing the law by any means and protecting their own.
Even in cases where the victim lives to tell their story, the police department rarely conducts a thorough investigation. In the very rare cases where the officer is found guilty of domestic violence, they aren’t fired or arrested. In a study involving the Los Angeles Police Department, out of a total of 91 cases of domestic violence involving an officer, over three-fourths of the time the reports weren’t even mentioned in the officer’s evaluation, and 29% of those accused were promoted a few years later. Domestic violence cases involving the families of police officers also go underreported because the victims often live in fear, knowing that making the report will likely lead to more abuse before anything ever gets resolved.
Sign the petition below to support efforts to hold police officers accountable when they are accused of domestic violence.
Dear U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder,
Police officers should be required to abide by the same laws that they enforce. When the spouse of an officer contacts the police department, they should be able to do so without any fear that the officer will receive special treatment. Police departments should be required to file reports in these cases and the process for implementing punishment shouldn’t be any different than it would be if the alleged suspect didn’t have a badge.
In a survey of 123 police departments, many claimed that counseling is the most common form of discipline for an officer accused of domestic violence. Police departments shouldn’t have the power to decide the manner in which an officer gets punished for their crime. There should be specific policies in place for the sake of the victims who should feel as though they are protected by the same laws that their spouses are required to uphold throughout their careers.
I urge you to ensure that police departments are allowing all victims of domestic violence to pursue the justice they deserve without any regard to the suspect’s affiliation with the law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes via Flickr