Domestic Abuse: “Police Officers Are Humans Too”

I respect the police. You’ve got to respect anyone willing to lay their life on the line for total strangers, which includes me and my family. I’ve give the po-po props despite my firmly-held belief that any given cop’s willingness to get into harm’s way has more to do with their testosterone levels (i.e. thrill-seeking genetics) than altruism. Let’s face it: a lot of the large-framed and/or balding men wearing police uniforms are prone to, uh, excess physicality. And when they “act out” bad things happen to good people, their families included. Truth be told, officer-involved domestic violence (OIDV) is law enforcement’s dirty little secret. Only maybe it’s not so little. And one way or another, it always involves a gun . . .

That night at their Burien home, Jenifer Rees watched in disbelief as King County sheriff’s deputies handed her intoxicated husband back his gun and let him drive away — so he wouldn’t miss work in the morning.

“It was like, ‘You’re one of us, so you can leave,’ ” Jenifer Rees, 34, recalled. “He could have come back and blown my head off.”

The  story dates back to 2003, the year Tacoma [Washington] police Chief David Brame shot his wife and then killed himself. “Over the past five years,” seattlepi.com reported at the time. “41 officers in King and Pierce counties alone have been accused of assaulting, stalking, threatening or harassing their wives, girlfriends or children.”

That’s a lot of OIDVs. But it reflects the conclusions of a number of studies. I’ve found some startling stats on the subject, such as this one from womenandpolicing.org:

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.

Note: the studies cited are all from the early nineties. It seems research into the problem has stopped. While the problem continues— mostlyt unexpressed and largely unaddressed.

And for “good” reason. As you might imagine, many police departments are known to “close ranks” on their colleagues “domestics,” helping protect the accused cop’s career. Even in those states where civilians must surrender their firearms when a judge determines that there’s been domestic abuse, cops don’t.

A culture of secrecy and cover-up and tolerance surrounds the entire issue. For example, one wonders if the officer’s in the video above would assert his shared humanity with an “ordinary” perpetrator of domestic abuse. If not, he should be reminded that equal treatment under the law is the cornerstone of our democracy. And our shared humanity.

comments

  1. avatar CNS says:

    “I’ve give the po-po props despite my firmly-held belief that any given cop’s willingness to get into harm’s way has more to do with their testosterone levels (i.e. thrill-seeking genetics) than altruism.”

    Is this belief based on anything more then idle speculation? I doubt it.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      You need to leave space for me to answer. Now I’m taking my ball and going home.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    Bad cops are bad cops. They’re physically abusive on the street, and they’re physically abusive at home.

  3. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    I’ve met many police officers thru out the years, and 99.99% of these officers are great people who enjoy helping other people. There will always be that one bad apple who places other officers in a bad light (and most cops know who these trouble makers are). The cop who beats and humilates other people while on duty, will do the same thing when he gets home.

  4. avatar Mike the Limey says:

    “And one way or another, it always involves a gun . . .”

    Please provide evidence of that, as it seems so unlikely to the point of being unbelievable.

    We don’t grant any leeway to the anti’s when they make patently untrue statements, so we have to keep our own act clean too.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Cops have guns. So guns are involved.

  5. avatar Tanya says:

    I’ve worked on police domestic violence for 8 years and am currently working on a journalism project interviewing women whose batterers and intimate partners are police officers. I can’t think of one interview we’ve done that didn’t involve the gun, either used to shoot the victim, threaten to kill her, hold to the baby’s head, clean during an argument as an implied threat, or to threaten to kill himself — it’s an ever-present threat whether it’s shot or not.

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