Monday, February 6, 2017

Why Police Really Fail to Investigate Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Police Wife Blog

Two newspaper investigations in Canada have just come out asking a very similar question. Why are police failing to properly investigate crimes involving violence against women?

The Toronto Star asks in this investigation: In the majority of domestic violence cases in Ontario, there are telltale signs that a life is in danger -- so why are women still dying?

And The Globe and Mail in a separate investigation Friday revealed that Canadian police dismiss one in five sexual assault cases as unfounded -- a dramatically higher rate than for other crimes. Why?

Why so few spouse abuse arrests?

The FBI asked a similar question back in 2000 in its landmark report Domestic Violence by Police Officers. Why were police making so few arrests in cases involving spousal abuse?

The FBI's conclusion: Many responding officers botch cases because they themselves are abusive at home. 

"If a police officer batters himself, his ability to conduct an objective investigation of the problem in other cases decreases," the report's introduction said. 

Abusive cops may identify with other abusers: FBI

"Indeed, data show [that] where a police officer approves of domestic violence and resorts to physical abuse in his own marriage, he grows less likely to arrest others for the offense...

"Police officers in relationships characterized by severe conflict may view domestic violence as more normal and tend to identify with the male offender."

It's important to look deeper at the underlying causes of poor police responses. Those causes often include derogatory attitudes to women and impunity for officers who commit sexual misconduct and spousal abuse. Problems in one area often signal issues in connected areas.

Pattern of botched investigations and misconduct

For example, a U.S. justice department investigation of Baltimore city police in 2016 found a pattern of sexual misconduct, racial discrimination and poor investigations of sexual assault.

The department "makes minimal to no effort to locate, identify, interrogate or investigate [sexual assault] suspects," the justice department found.

"We found this to be true even in cases where the suspects had been identified or were easily identifiable on the basis of the victim's testimony."

Police blamed sexual assault survivors

Officers routinely blamed sexual assault survivors for getting raped and discouraged them from filing a complaint -- for example, asking questions such as "Why are you messing that guy's life up?" 

One detective in the sexual offense unit reportedly complained: "In homicide, there are real victims; all our cases are bullshit."

An earlier U.S. justice department investigation in 2011 blasted the Puerto Rico Police Department for its "longstanding failure to effectively address domestic violence and rape in Puerto Rico." 

Sexual assaults twice as common among cops: study

The same investigation also found rampant officer-involved domestic violence and amazingly lax discipline for abusive cops. Of 98 officers with two or more domestic violence arrests from 2007 to 2010, 84 were still on active police duty.

Disturbingly, in 2011, the U.S. National Police Misconduct Reporting Project found that U.S. police officers committed over two times more sexual assaults per capita than the general population. 

Citing FBI data, the study also found that minors made up 52 percent of the alleged survivors of serious sexual misconduct by cops, such as sexual assault or battery. Sexual misconduct was the second most common form of wrongdoing reported, after excessive force.

Share the Police Wife blog with your friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment