Monday, March 3, 2014

Preventing domestic violence in our own families

Did you know that police families are two to four times more likely to experience domestic violence than other American families, according to studies? The nature of our work is stressful on any family. Police work long, odd hours, and they see some of the most disturbing things our society has to offer. But that does not make it OK for an officer to be violent toward his or her spouse or children.

Worse yet, studies of some police departments have found that officers will cover up for their colleagues who have abused a family member, such as not filing a report. It is our job to protect community members, and the family member of a colleague is entitled to just as much protection as anyone else.

Although this is not, to my knowledge, presently an issue at our department, I am very concerned about the well-being of our officers and their families. To ensure domestic violence does not become a problem within the KCPD family, I am requiring all law enforcement members to undergo domestic violence training developed by the Institute for Family Violence Studies at Florida State University. This training is targeted at law enforcement. Some of its goals are: “To support a law enforcement culture that prioritizes prevention efforts and officer/family wellness and also disapproves of officer-committed domestic violence, and to encourage officers to ask for help when they need it before violence occurs.”

As the program states, officers are role models for the communities they serve, and we “must ensure our actions at home are worthy of our oath.” We have taken many steps to reduce and prevent domestic violence city-wide (like the Lethality Assessment Protocol that my predecessor wrote about), and this is another step to do so. Preventing this type of violence begins at home.

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