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  • How do you or your agency handle domestic dispute calls?

    How do you or your agency handle domestic dispute calls? Is it something you decide or your agency?

    Do you try to separate them to end the dispute? Do you try to talk to them and come to a resolution where no one will have to press charges? Do you sometimes persuade the other person to not press charges? Do you always make arrests even if there are clear signs of physical abuse? Is the arrest you make something your decision or is it your agency policy? Or is it what your supervisor tells you to do?

  • #2
    They're handled based on state law, policy, and the circumstances of that particular case. There's no "universal solution" to domestics any more than there is on any other call.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

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    • #3
      Why? Doing a research paper?
      Now go home and get your shine box!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by NileZone View Post
        How do you or your agency handle domestic dispute calls? Is it something you decide or your agency?

        Do you try to separate them to end the dispute? Do you try to talk to them and come to a resolution where no one will have to press charges? Do you sometimes persuade the other person to not press charges? Do you always make arrests even if there are clear signs of physical abuse? Is the arrest you make something your decision or is it your agency policy? Or is it what your supervisor tells you to do?
        Why are you asking? What happened?

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        • #5
          State law is very black and white on this. There is lots of "shall" written into it this limiting, if not eliminating, officer discretion.

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          • #6
            Take them both/all to jail and go 10-8

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            • #7
              We handle each domestic dispute call very carefully, respectfully and in compliance with applicable laws and policies. Any decisions to arrest or not are based on probable cause and the relevant facts and circumstances known to the officer(s) at the time of the incident.

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              • #8
                I dispute that...
                Now go home and get your shine box!

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                • #9
                  Many states have adopted "mandatory arrest" laws pertaining to domestic abuse situations. Usually the standard is whether there is a credible complaint of an act such as harassment, menacing, assault, etc, which in itself creates a very broad approach. "He said, she said" and "he did, she did" are the rule rather than the exception. The question of who started the disturbance is seldom a deciding factor. Even signs of physical violence (bruises, cuts, fat lips, etc) are not always good indicators, as defensive wounds are common in such matters.

                  Because of mandatory reporting laws and mandatory arrest on probable cause requirements a lot of people end up going to jail. This frequently involves social services agencies for temporary placement and care of minor children. However, from that point forward these cases are no different than other criminal complaints. What amounts to reasonable suspicion (justification for investigation) and what amounts to probable cause (justification for arrest) are still not automatic guarantors of conviction (proof beyond a reasonable doubt). Prosecutors must still evaluate every case before making a decision to proceed to trial on criminal charges, and that frequently includes dealing with reluctant or uncooperative witnesses, victims, etc. After days or weeks of separation, being jailed, paying bail bondsmen, retaining attorneys, maybe being evicted because of disturbances, begging the boss for time off work to go to court, etc, very few of these cases are actively pursued by the participants.

                  Having started out in the old days, when we generally attempted to separate antagonistic couples for the night or use other less forceful means of resolution, and transitioning into the modern and enlightened mandatory reporting and mandatory arrest laws, I am not convinced that the overall results are significantly different. The only real changes have been in opportunities for politicians to congratulate themselves for how much they are doing to help the victims of domestic violence.

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                  • #10
                    Where I am now, I don't have very many domestics; the agency I started with, I worked at least two a night.

                    If there has been no law broken, and I don't feel that it will escalate to something dangerous, physical harm or property damage, then I try to mediate issues, be a neutral party and help them come to an understanding, or at least agree that they should spend a night or two apart at a friend or relative's home until they can calm down and work things out.

                    I never persuade anyone to press charges, or to not press charges, in any case, domestic dispute or otherwise.

                    I make an arrest based on probable cause, if the facts and circumstances would make a reasonable person believe that a crime has been committed; and also, if it is going to have a positive outcome (can, but not should). In a domestic case, if there is a crime committed, then I will make an arrest, unless the victim killed the attacker in self-defense. If what you're asking is something like, man beats wife regularly for a long period of time, and then we find his head bashed in and wife holding a homemade Lucille, then the history, your "clear signs of abuse" will be taken into consideration, it could have been self-defense.

                    The arrest is my decision. I don't do things because I have to, if I was doing something I felt was wrong but forced to by a supervisor or policy manual then I would quit and go work somewhere else.

                    I have never once in my career been ordered to make an arrest; and if I was, it would not matter, see above. Making an arrest simply based on an order, and not because it's legal and necessary, would be no different than searching a house without a warrant or exigent circumstance simply because I was ordered to.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by emtguy89 View Post
                      Where I am now, I don't have very many domestics; the agency I started with, I worked at least two a night.

                      If there has been no law broken, and I don't feel that it will escalate to something dangerous, physical harm or property damage, then I try to mediate issues, be a neutral party and help them come to an understanding, or at least agree that they should spend a night or two apart at a friend or relative's home until they can calm down and work things out.

                      I never persuade anyone to press charges, or to not press charges, in any case, domestic dispute or otherwise.

                      I make an arrest based on probable cause, if the facts and circumstances would make a reasonable person believe that a crime has been committed; and also, if it is going to have a positive outcome (can, but not should). In a domestic case, if there is a crime committed, then I will make an arrest, unless the victim killed the attacker in self-defense. If what you're asking is something like, man beats wife regularly for a long period of time, and then we find his head bashed in and wife holding a homemade Lucille, then the history, your "clear signs of abuse" will be taken into consideration, it could have been self-defense.

                      The arrest is my decision. I don't do things because I have to, if I was doing something I felt was wrong but forced to by a supervisor or policy manual then I would quit and go work somewhere else.

                      I have never once in my career been ordered to make an arrest; and if I was, it would not matter, see above. Making an arrest simply based on an order, and not because it's legal and necessary, would be no different than searching a house without a warrant or exigent circumstance simply because I was ordered to.
                      Overall, an excellent response with which I generally agree. Only point I would add is that many states have mandatory reporting and mandatory arrest statutes, leaving the investigating officer little or no discretion. Bottom line, if the law says that an arrest must be made under certain circumstances, the officer decides not to arrest, then later the fight continues and someone is seriously injured or killed, the officer and department could be exposed to a claim of negligence per se (legal assumption of negligence because the law was not complied with), very difficult to defend against.

                      Unfortunately, much of what cops do these days must take into consideration the possibilities of civil claims. Common sense is frequently not permitted, and certainly in no danger of becoming an epidemic. Domestic violence, impaired driving, so-called hate crimes, and some other categories of complaints are political hot buttons, and both politicians and plaintiffs' attorneys love to load the processes with mandatory reporting and mandatory arrest requirements. Failing to comply with such legal mandates is a potentially career-ending decision.

                      As long as your jurisdiction continues to allow the investigating officer some degree of discretion in handling these cases I am all in favor of doing so. We must always be prepared to document and articulate our responses to demonstrate that due care and all reasonable steps were taken. Keep in mind that in a domestic the couple or family had problems before you got there, they will have problems after you leave, and you must never allow their problems to become your problems.

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                      • #12
                        Living and working in a mandatory arrest state has had me arrest for some really odd things (like throwing a cereal box at the other party and it making contact).

                        It would be nice to a little more flexibility. California has a pretty basic standard: 1) injuries=felony. 2) battery-no injuries/complaints of pain=misdemeanors. 3)verbals-no physical-only fear=info report.

                        probable cause is an underlying requirement. If it’s not there, do not arrest. You will probably still have to write a report.
                        semper destravit

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                        • #13
                          The law requires us to make an arrest if probable cause exists and we can ID the primary aggressor. It doesn't require us to base our decision only on the word of the complainant. Need something to corroborate their version. Also the complainant isn't always the victim.

                          It's usually easy to determine but once and while there's just not enough there.

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                          • #14
                            Thank you to the ones that actually answered my questions instead of spamming and asking me questions in return.

                            But I thought i answer the question anyways. The reason why I asked those questions is basically to test the waters on how law enforcement make decisions. I am currently a police applicant (in the process of my POPAT test). It would suck working for an agency that makes all the decisions for you when you know that an issue can be resolved without an arrest.

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                            • #15
                              Colorado law requires that if probable cause to believe a crime of domestic violence is found, an arrest MUST be made or a warrant sought if immediate arrest is impossible.

                              Domestic violence doesn’t just includ assaults, they can include criminal mischief, animal abuse... any crime committed to retaliate against, control or intimidate the other person. Weirdest one I’ve seen was DV/ reckless driving... husband was weaving and pretending to drive off cliffs to scare wife.

                              ...and Colorado is a communal property state so even if you destroy your own property, you’re probably also destroying your spouse’s property.

                              Unless there’s absolutely no crime committed, we’re taking someone to jail.
                              Last edited by tanksoldier; 10-17-2019, 09:00 PM.
                              "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                              "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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