Monday, May 29, 2017

Police Officer-Involved Domestic Violence in the News: From the Police Wife Blog

A selection of news article excerpts about incidents involving allegations of police officer-involved domestic violence and related issues from the Police Wife blog. All accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty. 

I'll update this post with new items as they come in. Please send in other news of interest.

The Super Predators; When the Man Who Abuses You Is Also a Cop

Sarah Loiselle and Andrel Martinez.
(HuffPost Highline) June 21, 2017, by Melissa Jeltsen and Dana LiebelsonAll Sarah Loiselle wanted was a carefree summer. There was no particular reason she was feeling restless, but she’d been single for about a year and her job working with cardiac patients in upstate New York could be intense. So when she learned that a Delaware hospital needed temporary nurses, she leapt at the chance to spend a summer by the beach. In June 2011, the tall, bubbly 32-year-old drove her Jeep into the sleepy coastal town of Lewes. She and her poodle, Aries, moved into a rustic apartment above a curiosity shop that once housed the town jail. The place was so close to the bay that she could go sunbathing on her days off. It didn’t bother Loiselle that she’d be away from her friends and family for a while: She felt like she’d put her real life on hold, that she was blissfully free of all her responsibilities.

And then she met a guy. She’d never dated online before, but an acquaintance convinced her to try a site called PlentyOfFish. Loiselle, who has a slender face framed by auburn hair, soon found herself messaging with 36-year-old Andrel Martinez, a muscular Delaware state trooper.... Read the rest of the story here.


Bergen: Domestic abuse can portend terror violence

A.R.The article below illustrates yet another reason why it's vital for police to respond appropriately to domestic violence calls, which is harder to do if an officer himself is an abuser.

(CNN.com) June 15, 2017, by Peter Bergen and David StermanJames T. Hodgkinson, the man who carried out Wednesday's shooting at a baseball practice by congressional Republicans, was a small-business owner from Illinois. He also was charged 11 years ago with domestic abuse.

In 2006 Hodgkinson was arrested on charges of domestic battery after, according to a police report, he went into a neighbor's house to find his daughter, used bodily force to damage a door, grabbed his daughter by her hair, and when she escaped him and ran to a car, used a knife to cut her seat belt. He punched the neighbor, and brandished a shotgun, firing one round, the police report said.

The charges against Hodgkinson were later dismissed, but the allegations have a new resonance after Wednesday's shooting attack. A history of association with domestic violence is relatively common among those who have committed political violence in the United States.

Of the 48 perpetrators of lethal political violence in the United States since 9/11whether they were motivated by jihadist, far right or black nationalist ideologies11, or almost a quarter, had allegations or convictions of domestic violence or sexual crimes in their past, according to an analysis of New America's research.... Read the rest of the article here.


Family of woman killed by Clackamas County cop lobbies for domestic violence law

(The Oregonian/OregonLive) June 7, 2017, Clackamas County, OregonJay Hoffmeister remains haunted by the failure of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to address a veteran sergeant’s troubled history before he opened fire on Hoffmeister’s wife and two of her friends seven years ago.
Charlotte Grahn was killed along with two other women
by Grahn's police sergeant husband in Clackamas
County, Oregon, in 2010. Two of the women's families
filed a wrongful death lawsuit, saying police knew the
man was dangerously unstable but failed to intervene.


He’s convinced that early intervention by the agency could have kept Sgt. Jeffrey Grahn’s from killing his own wife Charlotte, Hoffmeister’s wife, Kathleen, and their friend, Victoria Schulmerich.

Grahn, a 15-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, shot himself after killing the three women. Nine months before the shooting at the M&M Lounge & Restaurant in Gresham, Charlotte Grahn’s sister told police she thought the Grahns’ increasingly abusive relationship could end in murder-suicide.

Hoffmeister, 60, of Albany, pressed lawmakers this week to pass House Bill 2712, which would require police agencies to adopt policies dealing with officers involved in domestic violence. Hoffmeister and Schulmerich’s husband, Scott, have made multiple trips to Salem to try to win support for the bill.

“If this bill was in place, we wouldn’t be here today,” Kelsey Hoffmeister, 27, Kathleen and Jay Hoffmeister’s daughter, said at a legislative hearing Wednesday. “My mom would be alive.”

But the bill isn’t expected to go anywhere this session because key law enforcement groups don’t support it, said its sponsor, Rep. Carla Piluso, D-Gresham. The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police oppose it.... 

Read the rest of the article here. See also the Feb. 9, 2012, item below about the $8-million lawsuit filed by the families of two of the murdered women.

The suit was settled in 2015 with a payment of $800,000 to each of the two families. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office also adopted a policy addressing officer-involved domestic violence.


Salt Lake City police officer charged with domestic violence

(The Salt Lake Tribune) June 6, 2017A Salt Lake City police officer has been accused of choking, hitting and handcuffing his now ex-wife.

Matthew Robert Collins, 24, was charged Friday in 3rd District Court with first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping and two counts of third-degree felony aggravated assault.... Read the rest of the article here.


Two-thirds of Mississippi's mass shootings linked to domestic violence

(The Clarion-Ledger) June 2, 2017, Jackson, MississippiMass shootings this year have stolen the lives of 20 Mississippians, with two-thirds of those deaths linked to domestic violence.

That’s even higher than a national study, which found a little more than half of mass shootings are related to such violence....

Last weekend near Brookhaven, Willie Cory Godbolt reportedly killed eight people, including a deputy, a teenager and his 11-year-old cousin.
Willie Cory Godbolt arrested after a shooting
rampage left eight dead.

Authorities have been told Godbolt beat his wife, who had moved out with their children three weeks earlier....

Using FBI reports and news reports, Everytown for Gun Safety analyzed 156 mass shootings in the U.S. between 2009 and 2016, finding that 54 percent of them were related to domestic or family violence.

Sadly, one out of four victims was a child.... Read the full story here.


Former acting chief of Findlay police to enter domestic violence program

(The Toledo Blade) June 2, 2017, Findlay, OhioA former acting chief of Findlay police agreed to enter into a domestic violence diversion program that could dismiss a case against him for throwing a video camera at his wife’s head and grabbing his daughter’s throat.

Sean Young pleaded guilty early today in Findlay Municipal Court to a domestic violence charge, and agreed to enter into a domestic violence program for a minimum of 26 weeks, perform 70 hours of community service, and pay court costs and fines.

If he completes the program and continues to follow the terms of a protection order, the case against him will be dismissed.

A protection order petition submitted by Mr. Young’s wife, Toni, alleges he threw a camera at her head Feb. 4. Her injuries sent her to a hospital and required five stitches.

She also accused Mr. Young of grabbing his daughter’s throat while their son watched, and referenced prior “emotional and physical violence.”... Read the full story here.


Ex-NYPD cop Michael Dowd arrested in domestic violence incident

(Newsday) May 30, 2017A former NYPD cop at the center of a notorious department drug scandal and arrested twice since December faces a new charge “in connection with a domestic violence incident,” Suffolk police said Tuesday.

Michael Dowd, 56, was arrested Monday and charged with second-degree criminal contempt for disobeying a court order, a Suffolk police spokeswoman said.
Former New York Police Department officer
Michael Dowd, in front of a poster for
Precinct Seven Five, a documentary about
the police corruption scandal he was
at the centre of.

Dowd was taken into custody at 9:47 p.m. but the location was not immediately available, the spokeswoman said.

A former resident of Port Jefferson Station, Dowd was convicted in 1994 of confiscating cocaine from Brooklyn dealers and reselling it on Long Island....

The May 1992 arrest of Dowd and other NYPD officers from Long Island in connection with the drug shakedown scheme led then-Mayor David Dinkins to form the Mollen Commission, a panel designed to root out corrupt city officers.

Officers involved in the nearly decade-long scandal abused their authority by taking payoffs from dealers and shaking others down in order to peddle and use the drugs they stole while maintaining lavish lifestyles.

Dowd, a central figure in the scheme, had testified that he operated with near impunity as supervisors and fellow cops looked the other way and, by some estimates, his enterprise scored him $4,000 a week from Brooklyn cocaine dealers.

“It’s Us against Them out there,” Dowd said in testimony before the Mollen Commission in 1993, according to a Newsday report at the time. “Us is the police officers, Them is the public.... Cops don’t turn in other cops. Cops don’t want to be labeled as rats. Cops have to depend on each other for survival.”

He spent nearly 12 years in prison on racketeering and drug convictions. The scandal is considered among the biggest in the NYPD’s history.... Read the full story here.


When police are charged with domestic violence, questions arise about gun use

(The Chicago Tribune) May 23, 2017When legal gun owners are charged with domestic battery, their constitutional right to bear arms may end up in the hands of a local judge.

Police officers are no exception, though policies and rules often apply to them beyond the laws that govern everyone else.

The ongoing case of Aurora Police Officer Brian Shields illustrates the predicament of law enforcement officers who have been charged, but not yet convicted of a violent domestic crime.... Read the rest of the story here.


Ex-wife of rapist police officer calls for better protection for domestic violence victims going through divorce

(The Northern Echo) May 23, 2017, Darlington, County Durham, UKA woman tormented by her rapist ex-husband from his prison cell is calling for a change in the law which allowed him to contact her through the family court.

Nicola Richardson, who has waived her right to anonymity, said she was left feeling angry and frustrated as former Cleveland Police officer Wayne Scott delayed their divorce for four years in a bid to retain his control over her.

He was jailed for 19 years in 2013 for a catalogue of rapes on two womenone of whom was his wifeas well as a number of sexual assaults carried out both on and off duty was branded "manipulative, controlling and domineering by Judge James Goss.... Read the rest of the story here.


It’s not just the RCMP: Police culture is toxic

Lesley J. Bikos, a former officer for the London police service, is a PhD candidate in sociology at Western University working on a nationwide study of Canadian police officers and the impact of police culture on their on- and off-duty lives.

(The Globe and Mail) May 17, 2017, Toronto, Canada, by Lesley BikosThe Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP unveiled a damning report on systemic workplace harassment in the RCMP. In a one-two punch, former auditor-general Sheila Fraser also released a second federal report of her review of four harassment lawsuits from female RCMP members. Both reports call for substantial reforms to the operations of the RCMP. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responded to the reports stating they both contained “similar serious and long-standing concerns.”

While some in the public may see these reports as earth-shattering revelations about the workplace culture of Canadian police forces, their content should not surprise many of the officers who serve.... Read the rest of the opinion piece here.


Shreveport Officer Arrested on Domestic Abuse Charges by Bossier Police

(News Radio 710 Keel) May 10, 2017A Shreveport Police officer has been arrested by Bossier Police on domestic abuse charges.

Gary Thomas was arrested overnight after officers responded to a domestic violence call at his home on Northgate Drive in Bossier City. Shreveport Chief Alan Crump has placed Thomas on leave following the arrest.

Thomas is charged with domestic abuse battery, false imprisonment for injuring his wife and refusing to let her leave the home. Thomas’ wife refused emergency medical treatment.... Read the rest of the story here.


Mound City police chief charged with domestic violence

(The Southern Illinoisan) May 9, 2017The Mound City police chief was arrested at his home in rural Union County on Monday, charged with domestic violence, according to Union County State's Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds.

James Page is being held in the Jackson County Jail, where those arrested in Union County are held, Edmonds said.... Read the rest of the article here.


Portsmouth Police Lt. charged with domestic violence

(ABC6.com) May 9, 2017, Portsmouth, R.I.A high-ranking Portsmouth Police officer is on the wrong side of the law, after getting arrested by the State Police.

Lt. George Grassi, 48, has been charged with domestic assault and battery, after the 37 year-old woman he lives with was treated at Newport Hospital for minor injuries. The arrest stemmed from an incident that happened on I-95 during a ride from Providence to Newport, according to State Police.... Read the rest of the story here.


Milwaukee police knew of past abuse allegations before cop shot and killed wife, family says

(Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel) April 26, 2017The Milwaukee police officer who killed his wife and himself last month [see article below -A.R.] had been reported for domestic violence before, according to interviews and records released Wednesday.

The Police Department had been notified of Leon Davis' violent behavior several times in the years before he shot Sherida Davis with his department-issued gun before turning it on himself at their northwest side home, according to Sherida's mother, Sylvia Moragne.

He was never arrested, she said in an interview Wednesday.

At least two city officials have said publicly Davis' behavior was known to his department bosses and have questioned why they did not effectively deal with it.

I’ve had several people from the community reach out and some officers reach out and say this was something that has been known to the department and it did not reach the Fire and Police Commission, Ald. Chantia Lewis said during the Common Council's Public Safety Committee meeting this month.

It should have been under review a long time ago before this incident escalated to this degree,” said Lewis, who represents the district where the murder-suicide occurred....

Dispatch records obtained by the Journal Sentinel earlier this year for an unrelated story indicate police were called to the Davis home Sept. 8, 2015, for a report of a battery-domestic violence.

Leon Davis was not arrested and police called to the scene determined there was no evidence of a domestic violence incident, according to Sgt. Tim Gauerke, the department's spokesman. The incident led to an internal investigation and the allegation was deemed baseless, he said.... Read the full article here.


Invercargill shooting: Police officer Ben McLean charged with murder

(The New Zealand Herald) April 26, 2017, Invercargill, New ZealandThe alleged murder of an Invercargill woman by her police officer husband is the greatest tragedy Mayor Tim Shadbolt has encountered in his 23 years on the job.

Constable Benjamin Peter McLean was today charged with the murder of his wifethe mother of his three childrenand the attempted murder of a man she was believed to be in a relationship with.... Read the rest of the article here.


RCMP officer sentenced in St. John's to 14-day conditional sentence for assaulting girlfriend

(The St. John's Telegram) March 17, 2017, St. John's, Newfoundland, CanadaAn RCMP officer convicted of assaulting his girlfriend eight years ago has been given a 14-day conditional sentence with one year's probation.

Cameron D. Lockhart was sentenced this morning (Friday) at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's.

Lockhart had been facing several charges involving two former girlfriends between 2009 and 2011 when Lockhart was stationed at the Trinity Conception RCMP detachment. But following a trial last month, a jury found him guilty of one count of assault.... Read the rest of the story here.


Milwaukee police officer fatally shoots wife before turning gun on himself

(Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel) March 13, 2017, Milwaukee, WisconsinA 47-year-old Milwaukee police officer apparently shot his estranged wife before turning the gun on himself last weekend.

Leon Davis and his 38-year-old wife, Sherida Davis, died in a shooting Saturday afternoon that Milwaukee police have said was domestic violence related. ... Read the rest of the story here.


Families of women killed by off-duty Clackamas deputy file $8 million lawsuit

(The Oregonian/OregonLive) Feb. 9, 2012, Clackamas County, OregonThe families of two women murdered by an off-duty Clackamas County sheriff's sergeant filed an $8 million lawsuit Thursday, alleging that the county, Sheriff Craig Roberts and two of his top aides knew the man was dangerously unstable but failed to intervene.

Roberts and other defendants knew Sgt. Jeffrey A. Grahn presented a threat to his wife, Charlotte, and that he was emotionally unsteady, angry, depressed and had substance-abuse problems, according to the wrongful-death lawsuit filed in Multnomah County.... Read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

FAQs About Police Officer-Involved Domestic Violence From the Police Wife Blog

Some of the information below on officer-involved domestic violence has been adapted from my book Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence. Please share the Police Wife blog with your friends. 

QUESTION: I’m being abused by my police officer husband and don’t know where to go for help. What can I do?
You are not alone. Many police family members have gone through abuse and found a way out. You can find a better life too. 

No one deserves to be abused. You are courageous to be looking for ways to improve your situation. You know best how to be safe and what steps to take. No one understands your situation better than you.

Here are some tips that might be helpful:

Be careful about devicesBe careful about your safety when using computers and cellphones for research or calls. Police officers often have training and tools to monitor communications and other records. Deleting documents or emails doesn’t rid them completely from a computer. You may want to use a friend’s device or a computer in a library. Consider creating a special online account and password for this purpose.

Also avoid unusual changes, such as deleting your internet browsing history or changing your daily routine. Officers are trained to notice anything out of the ordinary.

Save evidenceDocumentation can be very helpful. Save communications with your abuser, including email, phone messages and other correspondence. After an incident, ask someone to take photos of the scene and any injuries. Do not take photos on your own cellphone as your abuser can find them or, if you delete them, may be able to restore them.

If you feel it is safe, keep a diary to record details of incidents, including the date, time and names of any witnesses (writing them down as soon as possible afterward). 

Put copies of all this material in a safe place, such as with a domestic violence counsellor or lawyer or in a rented mailbox or safety deposit box.

Consider making a safety planPlan where you and your kids would go in an emergency, how you would leave your house if needed and whom your kids would call. Discuss with your kids what to do if you or they are in danger. Tell your kids not to get between you and your partner if there is violence or potential for it. Plan a code word to tell them to leave or get help.

In a violent situation, you can put your arms around each side of your head to try to protect your face and head. If an argument starts, consider moving to an area where you can exit the home quickly. Don’t go where the children are. Try not to wear clothes or jewellery that could be used to strangle you. Seek medical attention if you or your children are injured. Ask for injuries to be documented.

Think about getting help—Always remember you’re not alone. People are out there who want to help you. Think about people you trust whom you can talk to. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed, but help can come from taking things one small step at a time.

If you feel safe doing so, it can be a good idea to get to know a counsellor at a local domestic violence agency or help hotline. A counsellor can give advice and information, help you plan for your safety (including possibly getting a protection order) and safeguard documents.

These services are usually confidential and anonymous, but keep in mind that in many jurisdictions a counsellor who is concerned that you or a child is at risk of harm may have to contact authorities and give them your contact information or, if you’re using a chatline, your computer’s Internet Protocol address (i.e. your computer’s location). Check the agency’s privacy rules or clarify with the counsellor before deciding what to disclose.

When you seek help, you may have to explain your unique situation to other people—and especially how officer-involved domestic violence is different from other abuse.

If you or someone else calls 911If 911 is called, ask that a supervisor attends the scene. Provide a complete and truthful account without understating the severity of the abuse. If your account changes over time, you will undermine your credibility. Ask to read the police report and/or criminal complaint to ensure it is accurate. If not, ask for it to be amended. Try to get a copy, and take down the report number and responding officers’ names and badge numbers.

If you have a safe opportunity to do so before 911 is called, familiarize yourself with your local police jurisdiction’s policy on domestic violence (it should be on the department’s website). Check if the department also has a specific policy on officer-involved domestic violence. Note any discrepancies in how responding officers deal with your case. Be ready for responding officers to pressure you to drop the complaint.

Be prepared for an abusive police officer to lie and try to undermine your credibility. That could include saying you assaulted him, abused the children or have mental health or substance-abuse problems.

Leaving the relationshipLeaving an abusive relationship can be a dangerous time for anyone, but especially so for the intimate partner of a police officer.

Think of places to go where he wouldn’t look for you—the home of an old friend or distant relative he doesn’t know about; to another state or province. Local shelters for abused women are known to most officers. You may have to go further away. 

Leave quickly and at an unexpected time, such as when it’s calm and no argument has occurred. If possible, take important phone numbers, medication, a list of bank account numbers, ID and documents, school and medical records and valued possessions.

Keep in mind a police officer may be able to track you via your vehicle GPS, phone calls, credit card and bank transactions, cellphone, hotel registration, plane tickets and border crossings.

If you stay in your home but your partner has left, consider changing locks and installing steel or metal doors, outside lighting with motion detectors and security cameras. Be sure your house is equipped with smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

Don’t meet your partner alone. Discuss a safety plan with your children and anyone else staying with you. If you have a restraining order, always keep it with you and inform family, friends, employers, neighbours and your kids’ school or daycare provider, leaving them a copy.

If possible, change your work hours, change your phone number and use a new cellphone. Vary your route to and from work and school. Carry a charged cellphone preprogrammed to dial 911.

Hold on to hope and get informedNo matter how frightened you may feel, it can help to know you aren’t alone and to inform yourself about resources available to you. This knowledge may open up new options for you and give you hope.

Read more detailed tips and resources in this free extended excerpt of the Police Wife book, which includes appendices with tips and resources for people in a relationship with a police officer. The complete book is available on Amazon here

Also see the excellent information on officer-involved domestic violence (also known as OIDV) on counsellor Diane Wetendorfs website. Life Span, a Chicago-based non-profit domestic violence agency, may be another good resource, offering specialized support for intimate partners of police officers.


QUESTION: Do you believe all police officers are abusive? Such blanket statements are offensive.
No, Police Wife doesn’t say all police officers abuse their spouse. I spoke with many officers who are upset about the widespread abuse going on in fellow officers’ homes and are trying to do something about it. Many active-duty and retired officers have been supportive of the Police Wife book, including the current and past presidents of the International Association of Women Police, whose words of praise are on the back cover.


QUESTION: I’ve been married to a police officer for many years and have never been abused. Why does your book cover have a quote saying that every police wife or girlfriend should be given a copy of your book? I find that insulting.
The quote you mention is from a veteran police sergeant who has two PhDs and was president of the International Association of Women Police. The book isn’t only for abused police spouses. 

Studies suggest that domestic violence is a major job hazard for police officers, potentially affecting 40 percent of law enforcement families. The risks are so high that it’s important for law enforcement families to be informed about them proactively, not just after violence occurs. 


Educating yourself can help you spot the warning signs of abuse and know how to support another police wife appropriately.

Timely information may help officers, their families and police departments address problem behaviours before they cross the line into abuse. 

An analogy could be being a firefighters wife but being unaware of the risks your husband goes through putting out fires all day. As a police spouse, youre likely aware of the on-the-job risks that officers facebut the off-the-job risks such as abuse are little-known, and police departments do little to help families deal with them.

And even if you don’t face abuse yourself, some of your police spouse friends might, and you may not know it. From the outside, it’s very difficult to know if a particular family is experiencing abuse. Learning about the special challenges of OIDV can help you spot the warning signs of abuse and know how to support another police wife appropriately. You may even save a life, a marriage or the career of a good officer.

Educating yourself will help you realize that abused police spouses often don’t feel safe calling 911 or shelters for help. Most police departments have a poor record of disciplining abusive officers, even when they’ve been convicted in the courts. The punishment is often milder than for theft or lying. These women are typically desperate and feel they’ve got nowhere to turn. Information and help can be very difficult to find.


Many people endure abuse without even realizing it. Abuse can take many forms. It’s not just hitting.

Learning about the abuse may also show you how the problem affects everyone in the law enforcement community. For example, covering for an abusive officer could put another officer’s career in jeopardy. Also, Arizona State University sociologist Leanor Johnson found a strong correlation between officers who abuse at home and those who assault fellow officers on the job.

It’s also important to remember that many people endure abuse without even realizing it. Abuse can take many forms. It’s not just hitting. It can also include throwing and breaking furniture, controlling behaviour, threats and stalking. Some people become so despondent after years of abuse that they may not realize they don’t deserve to be treated that way. 


QUESTION: My sister is going out with a police officer who is very controlling. I’m worried she is being abused. She seems distant and fearful since they’ve been together. How can I help her?
We’re often reluctant to get involved or interfere if we think a friend or family member may be in a violent or abusive relationship. We may be scared, not know how to help or not want to make the situation worse. But your help may be critical for an abused person and her children. You may even save a life.

Keep in mind that any support you offer should aim to empower your sister to help herself. When someone experiencing domestic violence is ready to talk or get help, this is a first step to freedom. Understand and acknowledge the courage it took to reach this point. Be a good listener. An abuse survivor may have a hard time trusting anyone, including you. Don’t interrupt, assume or judge. Just having your ear may be of pivotal importance to her.


Don’t minimize the abuse, excuse the abuser or express disbelief. Don’t ask her why she stays.

It’s useful to get informed about the unique warning signs, risks and obstacles of officer-involved domestic violence. You may want to find a time and place to talk privately and offer your support. Tell her she isn’t alone. Assure her you’ll always be there if she wants to talk. Explain what you see and that you are concerned. 

Don’t demand to know all the details. Tell her she didn’t cause the abuse. Don’t minimize the abuse, excuse the abuser or express disbelief. Don’t ask her why she stays. Comfort her. You can tell her what you think are her strengths. 

Offer to help take care of children and pets. Don’t try to take over or argue with her decisions. Remember that the abused person knows better than you what will be safe for her and her children.

Also be patient. If she doesn’t want to talk or denies the abuse, don’t get frustrated or angry. Tell her you’re available whenever she needs. Don’t encourage her to confront the abuser or confront the abuser yourself. Be careful not to say or do anything that could make him upset with her.

It may be helpful to gather a list of agencies, information and professionals experienced in working on domestic violence to share with her when she is ready. Try to locate professionals who know about police spousal abuse. You can offer to help her make a safety plan and offer to accompany her to get help. 


Get to know her triggers. Flashbacks can help the survivor work through what happened. Don’t push her to talk.

Also consider your own safety. Be aware that the abuser may target you if he discovers your role. Consider ways to protect yourself. You can ask an experienced advocate for advice.

If she has a panic attack or flashback (i.e. reliving an incident), gently remind her where she is. Ask her to sit, remind her to take deep breaths, and in the case of a flashback tell her it’s not happening even though it feels real. Get to know her triggers. Explain that flashbacks can help the survivor work through what happened. Don’t push her to talk. A hug, holding a hand or pat on the back may be welcome for some survivors; for others, not. Ask first.

Also keep in mind that certain abused spouses may face special challenges, including female officers, same-sex intimate partners of a cop and intimate partners of racialized officers.

Finally, keep in mind that survivors of long-term abuse may be so despondent they feel paralyzed and unable to help themselves. The partner of a police officer often experiences these feelings even more strongly because of her abuser’s powerful position.


QUESTION: I’m not a police spouse. Why should I care about this?
The damage from officer-involved domestic violence goes far beyond police families. Abusive officers may be less likely to act appropriately when responding to domestic violence calls in other people’s homes. Domestic violence is the number-one reason for 911 calls to police in many communities. Many of today’s mass shootings also have domestic violence at their root.

Officers who abuse at home also tend to be more likely to engage in misconduct on the job, such as using excessive force. And when law enforcement agencies fail to protect a police spouse from an abusive officer husband, taxpayers have often been stuck with multi-million-dollar legal bills to settle suits filed by the spouse’s estate or family.

Domestic violence in police families is rooted in the tremendous power we bestow on officers, the impunity they enjoy and derogatory male officer attitudes to women. Many of these same issues are at the core of today’s debates about policing in our society, including the police shootings of African Americans and police sexual harassment of female drivers at traffic stops. 

These same issues are also connected to broader social issues, such as growing inequality in our society and the militarization of police. Police officers are often the ones who must deal with the consequences of inequality, such as homelessness and unemployment. As the job burden on police officers grows, their families and health often pay the price.


QUESTION: Why do you single out police officers? People in other jobs are also abusive. Are you anti-police? Police officers already face enough attacks while risking their lives to keep us all safe.
Abuse certainly occurs in every profession. But the rate of abuse among police officers—up to 15 times higher than the among the public—is so staggeringly great that it deserves special attention. Police families are clearly paying an extraordinary price for the work of law enforcement. We need to figure out why and what can be done to help them.

It’s important to remember that police officers are public servants. When they abuse at home, while other officers cover for them, they’re also abusing the tremendous powers and confidence that society gives them. How can we trust them to enforce the law if they violate it in their own home?


QUESTION: Why do you focus on male officers? Women officers are abusive too.
Female officers can certainly also be abusive, and I talk about that in my Police Wife book. But I focus mostly on male officers because they’re the ones who make up the vast majority of police personnel. For example, in the U.S., 88 percent of police officers are men. That said, the advice and resources in the book apply as well to men who are being abused and women in same-sex relationships.


QUESTION: You say 40 percent of police officers reported abuse in their home in the past six to 12 months. Thats inflammatory nonsense. Anyone can skew statistics.
The data comes from two different studies done by highly respected researchers. One study was done by three people: Detective Albert Seng, a highly decorated, now-retired officer of the Tucson Police Department in Arizona; that departments renowned police psychologist Harold Russell (who was instrumental in founding the field of police psychology); and Peter Neidig, who pioneered studies of domestic violence in the military.

They surveyed over 1,000 officers from across the U.S. attending law enforcement conferences and a Fraternal Order of Police national convention in Washington, D.C. The abuse rate they found in police homes was up to 15 times higher than among the U.S. population.

A second study was done by an eminent Arizona State University sociologist, Leanor Johnson, who was a member of an FBI advisory board and presented her findings to Congress.

She surveyed 728 police officers from a large urban department, two mid-sized suburban departments and two small rural forces, all on the U.S. east coast. She found remarkably similar results to Seng’s team.

Both Seng and Johnson contributed blurbs supporting my book, and Johnson wrote a longer contribution for the appendix.

QUESTION: Youre just interested in profiting off the misfortunes of others, including the victims.
Im interested in helping the people who have gone through this abusewho usually are desperate and feel they have nowhere to turn—as well as police officers struggling to deal with these issues, family and friends of police families, advocates and others to understand a little-known problem and find ways to address it.

You might understand better if you read stories like that of Crystal Judson-Brame, who was murdered in 2003 by her police chief husband, or Lucie Gélinas, a mother of three gunned down on a busy highway by her ex-boyfriend, an RCMP officer. 

Both murders happened despite clear warning signs to police well beforehand that the officer was a danger, which were dismissed by police. The cases resulted in millions of dollars in legal settlements, but they could have been prevented had the issue been taken more seriously.

Crystal and Lucies stories and many others are described in Police Wife and the articles linked in the right-hand column on this page.

Many officers Ive spoken with, including present and prior presidents of the International Association of Women Police, feel the hidden abuse epidemic is a very serious problem and wrote contributions for the book, as did Crystal Judson-Brame’s parents, Lane and Patty Judson, who wrote the foreword.

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