A second King County, Washington sheriff’s deputy has been fired because of a permanent protection order against him that prohibits the carrying of a firearm. David Hick, a 10-year veteran of the King County Sheriff’s Office, attempted to appeal the judge’s verdict, arguing that his livelihood was at stake if he could not carry a weapon. Hick’s ex-girlfriend requested a protection order in May 2002, shortly after her relationship with Hick ended. She claimed that Hick threatened to kill her and her children, and had once forced her to place his gun against his temple, urging her to pull the trigger and kill him. King County District Court Judge Mary Ann Ottinger denied Hick’s motion to appeal. Hick was subsequently fired earlier this month on the grounds that the protection order prohibited him from holding his job because he couldn’t carry a weapon. Another King County deputy was fired in December under similar circumstances.
The Sheriff’s decision to fire the two men, and the judge’s denial of the appeal, is being praised by the domestic violence community, which has watched with aghast as the legal system frequently protects law enforcement officers who are domestic abusers, thus putting their victims and the community at risk. Studies have documented a high rate of domestic violence in police families , with most estimates suggesting a rate as high as 40%. With domestic violence so prevalent among police officers, a woman calling for police response to domestic violence is at substantial risk of having an abusive police officer respond to her call. The National Center for Women & Policing advocates for an increase in the number of women officers as a strategy to improve police response to violence against women.