Police Discretion and Domestic Violence Calls Essay

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Police officers have a significant level of discretion when ethical decision making is incorporated in deciding how to respond to a domestic violence call. For example, officers exercise discretion by deciding how to respond to domestic violence when a situation involves a fellow officer. America is a country in which many believe in privacy within the household and often choose not to be involved in a domestic dispute because families should resolve their own problems. However, discretionary powers abused by an officer are used to dissuade the victim from filing charges against the officer’s colleague. Officers often do not choose to arrest in a domestic dispute because they believe the family, not the justice system, should resolve the …show more content…
Officers often explained the woman’s victimization to be the result of her own behavior and describe her as the instigator or cause of the ‘misunderstanding’ (Wetendorf, D. and Davis, D.L. 2003:3). The responding officer would therefore fail to treat the wife as a victim who required police intervention but would redefine the situation as one of “an Officer in Need” (Dwetendorf, 1998:4). As Dwetendorf (1998:5) puts it, “the responding officers are likely to try to dissuade her from signing a complaint. They advise her to think about his career, think about all the good things she has, think about their kids. They assure her that he’s a good man and a good police officer, that he’s just under a lot of stress. They promise to talk to him, to straighten him out.”

When the off duty abuser is the main source of income for the family, his colleagues will not charge him with domestic violence and the wife is left with no recourse, which leaves the wife in a vulnerable situation because the violence is likely to be repeated. Women in this situation suffer higher levels of physical abuse because they are totally dependant on the husband as the provider (Wetendorf, 1998:2-3). Police departments have a poor record of dealing with domestic violence when the perpetrator is one of their own (Villa, 2002:1). For example, I interviewed Gerry Blair of the Flagstaff Police Department with concerns of disciplinary policy
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