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Police Officers Escape Domestic Violence Charges

Following the widely publicized suicide-murder committed by Tacoma police chief David Brame, the Seattle-area police have fallen under investigation for minimizing domestic abuse charges brought against their own officers. A Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigation found that police officers routinely escaped arrest after charges of domestic violence and were allowed to keep their weapons. These officers also usually return to duty, sometimes within hours of police arriving at the crime scene.

Victims often recant charges against officers for fear of their own safety, leaving abusers free of charges, the Post-Intelligencer reports. Victims also take back claims of abuse for fear that their own credibility will be undermined when the abuser uses his knowledge and connections within the police community to protect himself. Experts told the Post-Intelligencer that police officers have the training to be able to restrain and intimidate victims without leaving any marks, which hurts the victims’ credibility. When victims call the police to report abuse, responding officers often work to protect their fellow officers by failing to take photographs of the scene or collect evidence that could be used against a colleague, the Post-Intelligencer reports.

Dottie Davis, director of the Fort Wayne, Indiana police academy, told the Post-Intelligencer that “rather than protect our own, we need to do a better job of weeding them out, [but] most departments would rather keep their heads in the sand.”

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Sources:

Seattle Post-Intelligencer 7/23/03; Associated Press 7/23/03