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.