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criminal facet of domestic violence, the police are necessarily involved in domestic violence interventions, arrest, and prosecutions. Furthermore, even before many jurisdictions specifically criminalized domestic violence, the police were still involved because the level of force used in many family violence assaults can lead to serious injuries and deaths. However, criminality is only one aspect of domestic violence, and treating it solely like a crime, instead of like a very complex family issue, makes it extremely unlikely that the problem will ever be solved, either in individual families or as a social issue. In fact, despite the fact that former victims and women's organizations lobbied tremendously for domestic violence to be treated like a crime, when responding officers treat domestic violence like any other crime, they may actually decrease the likelihood of victim and offender cooperation, thereby reducing the chances of a successful prosecution and conviction. Therefore, officers who respond to domestic violence calls have to step beyond their role of crime prevention, detection, and investigation, and into the role of social worker and counselor. Furthermore, they must do so while entering into situations that are widely deemed as the most dangerous and stressful scenarios for responding officers.
To address the specific issues surrounding domestic violence, many jurisdictions have added provisions to their laws specifically geared at protecting domestic violence victims. For example, in the past, many assault prosecutions were based on having a victim who was willing to testify and cooperate with the investigation. However, the nature of domestic violence means that many victims will be unwilling, whether because of love, loyalty, or fear, to testify against their assailants. Therefore, many states have moved beyond victim cooperation to zero-tolerance domestic violence policies. These policies have resulted in mandatory arrests when an officer has witnessed an incident of domestic violence, emergency protective orders, no-drop prosecution policies, and stringent orders of protection. In addition, most police departments specifically train officers to deal with domestic violence situations in a way that is aimed at reducing victim-blaming and encourages victims to access other community resources, such as women's shelters and long-term protective orders.
From a strictly criminal standpoint, these measures are far more comprehensive than the measures taken to protect the average victim of stranger-assault. However, that does not mean that these measures have necessarily helped reduce the impact of domestic violence on the families that are plagued by it. First, family violence is rarely the only problem in a home. On the contrary, the vast majority of homes with family violence have at least one co-existing problem, such as drug or alcohol abuse, some type of mental problem, stress, unemployment, or poor parenting. In fact, though battered women's advocates may argue against this statement, it seems accurate to conclude that any parent, whether victim or abuser, who keeps their children in a home with violence, should be presumptively declared unfit as a parent, until they can prove such worth. After all, the research clearly establishes that children who witness inter-parent violence experience the same degree and type of emotional turmoil as children who are actually victims of child abuse. Therefore, removing the primary aggressor from the home is only the first-step in moving a family out of the cycle of violence.
In addition, removing an abusing parent from the home can have dire consequences for a family's safety and security. The majority of primary aggressors are males and, in the United States, men continue to be the primary breadwinners for their families. Mandatory arrest, prosecution, and sentencing can have dire short-term consequences for family financial situations. Moreover, due to the fact that many employers either cannot or will not hire convicted domestic violence offenders, such a conviction can lead to continued unemployment for the offender. Even if the victim leaves the offender, these financial repercussions can continue to impact the victim and the children, by reducing an offender's ability to pay child support or otherwise contribute to the household in a meaningful manner. Furthermore, although domestic violence impacts people of all social classes, the fact is that its effects disproportionately impact lower and middle-class families, because their financial security may be so based on the abuser's income that the victim truly feels unable to leave.
One thing that the class discussions do not seem to recognize is that domestic violence frequently has ancillary victims who are also witnesses. Children witness a huge percentage of domestic violence assaults, and can be an invaluable resource in helping police determine exactly what happened. However, officers have to be especially cautious when dealing with child witnesses, because children generally love both parents and do not want to be considered the source of any problems. Moreover, most children in violent homes have some experience with interventions and may have lost their faith about the potential effectiveness of such measures. Therefore, officers need to tread carefully when interviewing young witnesses, so that they can get all of the information that they need to build a case against the offender, while assessing the immediate danger to children in the home and minimizing any continuing impact that an investigation will have on the littlest victims of family violenc[continue]
"Role Of The Police Unit 8" (2008, March 25) Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/role-of-the-police-unit-8-31245
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"Role Of The Police Unit 8", 25 March 2008, Accessed.1 May. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/role-of-the-police-unit-8-31245