Violence in Police Families
Curt Lubiszewski is not an anomaly. Hundreds of women, partners
of police officers, are beaten every year. Just this April, Crystal
Brame was killed by her estranged husband, the police chief of
Tacoma, Washington. Here are some facts on cops as batterers.
violence is 2 to 4 times more common in police families than
in the general population. In two separate studies, 40% of police
officers self-report that they have used violence against their
domestic partners within the last year. In the general population,
it's estimated that domestic violence occurs in about 10% of
- In a nationwide
survey of 123 police departments, 45% had no specific policy
for dealing with officer-involved domestic violence.
- In that
same survey, the most common discipline imposed for a sustained
allegation of domestic violence was counseling. Only 19% of
departments indicated that officers would be terminated after
a second sustained allegation of domestic violence.
- In San
Diego, a national model in domestic violence prosecution, the
City Attorney typically prosecutes 92% of referred domestic
violence cases, but only 42% of cases where the batterer is
Problems for Victims
- Her batterer
always has a gun (often many guns and other weapons) and is
trained to use it.
- He knows
how to inflict pain and leave no marks or bruises.
- He's trained
to intimidate by his presence alone, and to use his body as
- He lets
her know he has the power to harm or kill her and get away with
have others do it for him.
How can she call the police? He is the police!
- He tells
her that if she does call police, the officers (his colleagues
and friends) will believe him and not her ... and he's right.
- He often
threatens that if she reports to police he'll lose his job,
and if that happens, she's dead.
- He has
access to surveillance tools like phone taps, police scanners,
vehicle tracking devices, and audio and video recording equipment
to stalk or monitor the victim's activities.
- The batterer
or his fellow officers will often "patrol" the victim's
house, work place, children's school or daycare center.
family and service providers are afraid of the batterer and
thus afraid to get involved.
violence advocates may share her information with the police.
(Other than Purple Berets and Women's Justice Center, all domestic
violence advocates in Sonoma County work for either the police
or district attorney's office.)
- He knows
the location of battered women's shelters.
- He knows
the court system, often testifies in court, and knows district
attorneys, judges and bailiffs personally.
assume police officers would not lie in court.
Your Batterer is a Cop
more than other battered women, when you decide to leave or prosecute
you need to move strategically and get good advice from the outset.
- Find an
advocate who is independent from police agencies and experienced
in working with police officer violence.
- Make a
comprehensive safety plan: put money aside he doesn't know about,
identify where you can flee with your children, etc. Domestic
violence shelters can help you with this anonymously.
the tendency is to take "baby steps" so as not to
enrage him, once you make your move, the more power you can
muster, the more likely you can stand up to the power you'll
be up against. Report to police or district attorney, get a
restraining order and report to his police agency all at once.
- If police
and DAs are unresponsive, go to the press.
Purple Berets for "Police Domestic Violence: A Handbook
information was gathered from the National
Center for Women and Policing, Life
Span, and Abuse
a recent media report on domestic violence by police, click