Advertisement

Domestic-violence survey says more training needed

October 30, 2000

Domestic-violence survey says more training needed



HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Associated Press review of domestic violence in West Virginia found that more victims are calling for help and more abusers than ever before are being arrested. But AP's look at the problem also found that there's an inconsistency in how things are handled from one county to another, an inconsistency that suggests that officers need additional training.

That's not to say that there hasn't been plenty of progress on this issue in the past 10 years. Incidents of domestic violence reported to police rose from 2,565 in 1989 to 11,534 last year.

Arrests have risen as well, due in part to a law change in 1994 that gives an officer greater discretion in domestic-abuse cases. Prior to that change, about 12 percent of such cases ended with an arrest. Now because officers are allowed to consider physical evidence of battering even if they don't see it occur, arrests are made in about a third of all cases.

Advertisement

But according to instructors in domestic-violence law at the state's police academy, officers have a difficult time disregarding what they find when they arrive on the scene.

The abuser, who's already engaged in an act of violence, has in many cases "gotten it out of his system" and is calm as a result. The victim, who may only feel free to vent when police are present, has a tendency to rant and rave. The officer's natural inclination, academy instructors say, is to identify with the person who is acting rationally.

What instructors didn't say, but what we've heard for years from advocates for battered spouses, is that abusers are master manipulators. They promise their victims that they'll do anything for "one more chance." Once it's granted, they fall back into a pattern of abuse again.

For many years, the assumption was that domestic violence was a private matter for families to handle. The truth is that it costs every taxpayer for the resources expended by the police, courts and social service agencies to deal with its aftermath. If police need more extensive treatment to stop it early on, then that would not only spare some victims, but save citizens a few bucks too.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|