June 24th, 2019

domestic violenceCourtesy photoELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times


Domestic violence is a frequent call made to police departments everywhere and when those calls do come in, the responding officers must be ready. 

“Domestic violence has been found to constitute the single largest category of police calls in some cities. When police officers respond, they know the situation can be volatile for both them and the abuser’s victim,” information from noted. “That’s because the killer in almost one third of female homicides is an intimate partner, and 22 percent of officer ‘line of duty’ deaths in recent years occurred while responding to domestic violence calls.”

“Those calls will come to us from Dispatch and then officers will get the call on the radio. Then the first order of business upon getting there will be separating the parties involved, and that's done to help calm the situation down and then we also interview everyone separately, so we can't have them talking over each other the whole time,” Liberal Police Department Captain Robert Rogers said. “Then we gather all the facts and go from there. Sometimes it's just a verbal dispute and sometimes it's more severe, and we work to make sure it doesn't become more severe. If we determine there has been a crime committed, we have to make an arrest and we'll arrest the primary aggressor in the situation.”

The investigation usually depends on the circumstances of the incident, Rogers continued. 

“A lot of times a battery case is easier because the hurt party will have marks on them or bleeding or things like that,” Rogers said. “Then you also observe how they're acting and you have to decide who to believe. The statements have to be compared along with the physical evidence that's there. The arrested party will be in jail for at least six hours, after which they could place bond and they may have a temporary restraining order. That time will also help the hurt party either move out or seek some other type of help. We also work with the LARC/DVS and they have police response advocates who respond to all the domestic cases. Once we have the scene calmed down, they'll offer their services.”

With domestic violence calls having a particular penchant for being dangerous, it is important for officers to keep everyone, including themselves, safe. 

“You're already going into a heated situation and both parties are upset by the time we get there and with emotions running high, there's the chance someone will want to start a fight,” Rogers said. “We always have more than one officer responding because those calls are so dangerous. There have been times where someone who's been arrested lashes out because they're made they're being arrested for their part in the situation. Those are typically a mandatory arrest and the city will file the charges even if the victim doesn't want to.”

“What the police death stats don’t really capture is all the law enforcement officers that are killed in the line of duty on traffic stops, serving protection orders or serving warrants to domestic violence offenders,” Michael P. LaRiviere, a police officer who does domestic violence training for national organizations, including the National Sheriffs’ Association, noted on “I’ve seen a connection between offenders who murder police officers and a record of domestic violence. They’re dangerous people. They’re about power and control, and law enforcement officers represent the authority to take away their freedoms.” 

Rogers also talked about the partnership between the police department and staff at the Liberal Area Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence Services staff.

“They're automatically called anytime we get a call on a domestic case, so they respond to all of those,” Rogers said. “We'll talk to the victims and encourage them to look into their services, but not everyone will want to, especially not right away when emotions are still so raw. We also work with them on the prosecution side of it. When it's a more serious case, we'll work with LARC/DVS if we need follow-up interviews or follow-up photos and we'll work with that advocate. We offer help with the criminal aspect of everything, but they offer help with the more personal side of it with therapy and other programs and ways to stop the cycle. And that's great because if they don't feel comfortable talking with us, the LARC/DVS staff is a great resource for help.”

Those who have either witnessed domestic violence or have been a victim are also highly encouraged to report. 

“The information that officers receive before they arrive on the scene helps them to be prepared,” information on noted. “If it’s safe for you to do so, tell the dispatcher if the abuser has a past criminal record, a history of restraining orders (active or expired), access to weapons, if they’ve made specific threats of violence (including suicide), or have been violent to you or your children in the past.”

“These situations tend to escalate and you see that over time – what may have started with a simple slap turns to punching or choking or some other type of battery,” Rogers said. “We've witnessed that. I encourage anyone to contact us if they're in that situation because we want to help. And if they don't feel comfortable talking to us, the LARC/DVS also has their services. And if you witness something, please call us – we encourage all citizens to be vigilant and let us know if they see something that isn't right.”

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