Unfortunately wrongful arrests happen way too often, as Setliff and I discussed. For example, a person may report having probable cause to claim domestic violence and request an arrest. Law enforcement must be vigilant to make sure they are handling domestic violence cases rightfully. Additionally, if an arrest is made, prosecutors should use the same care and caution in order to accurately charge offenders, and prosecute those offenders who truly do pose threat to victims.
It wasn’t until recently that attitudes regarding domestic violence have been taken seriously. Historically, the predominant thought was to blame the victim and give into myths and stereotypes. However, there has been a push to reevaluate these attitudes and begin to retrain law enforcement to understand domestic violence (Grover, Paul, and Dodge 626). In a study regarding attitudes of police officers towards domestic violence, it was found that “most of the officers (84%) felt that domestic violence calls take too much of their time and effort” (Grover et al 626). Officers “showed a high level of frustration with repeat calls to the same address (93%), and believed that too many domestic violence calls are for verbal arguments (93%)” (Grover et al 626). However, the same study also found that 87% of officers disagreed with the statement that domestic violence cases should be handled as private matters and 64% agreed with the statement, “Domestic violence offenders must be arrested even when the victims don’t feel it is necessary” (Grover et al 626). Evidence suggests that officer respect policies and procedures that have been created to assist the victim as well as protect the community.
Later on the same article reports:
“Most of the officers (88%) felt that they need more discretion in responding to domestic violence cases. Although officers felt that they were more likely to be injured during a domestic violence call (75%), only 24% of the officers agreed with the statement, “More training would help me assess domestic violence scenes.” The officers were almost evenly split between disagreeing and agreeing with having difficulty identifying the primary aggressor, and 36% have difficulty identifying which party to arrest overall. According to officers’ responses, an offender’s behavior is less important when deciding whether or not to make an arrest. Officers were divided on the influence of a victim’s cooperative behavior as well as the presence of children. Only 9% said that they would be affected by the cooperativeness of the suspect, 48% by the victim’s behavior, and 40% by the presence of children at the scene. Probable cause identification seemed to present a challenge as well, with 30% of officers considering it to be a difficult decision” (Grover et al 626).
Knowing the attitudes of law enforcement in regards to domestic violence and arrests help us realize that the offices themselves tend to have conflicting thoughts and ideologies regarding domestic violence and...