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Investigating Domestic Violence Pete Helein Chief of Police Appleton Police Department “Best Practices” Oshkosh - May 23, 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Investigating Domestic Violence Pete Helein Chief of Police Appleton Police Department “Best Practices” Oshkosh - May 23, 2013."— Presentation transcript:


2 Investigating Domestic Violence Pete Helein Chief of Police Appleton Police Department “Best Practices” Oshkosh - May 23, 2013

3 Engaging Stakeholders How Do You Engage? How Might You Benefit? How Do You Encourage Victims To Report? Lunch Exercise

4 Objectives Understanding The Victim Review Mandatory Arrest Standards Determining The Primary Aggressor Physical, Sexual And Emotional Violence Connecting With Children Building Your Case

5 This Presentation Does Not Constitute Legal Advice. You’re Encouraged To Consult Your Local Prosecutor If You Have Questions That Require A Legal Opinion.

6 The First Step In Solving A Problem Is… Understanding It

7 Law enforcement officers are key to: prioritizing communicating and reinforcing the commitment to end domestic violence.

8 Share Your Vision, Communicate Your Expectations, and Lead By Example

9 Develop A Community Agenda To Prevent Domestic Violence Homicides

10 Encourage your community to recognize sexual, physical, and emotional violence as a community problem, not exclusively a police problem.

11 Frustrations and Challenges

12 Quick Fixes and Magical Solutions

13 Do What You Do Best

14 Best Practices Positive Relationships Clear Communication Shared Expectations Training

15 Best Practices Citizens - reporting violence Advocates - supporting victims Police - gathering evidence Prosecutors - holding abusers accountable Probation and Parole – holding abusers accountable

16 Mandatory Arrest A law enforcement officer shall arrest and take a person into custody if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is committing, or has committed domestic abuse and that the person's actions constitute the commission of a crime; and any of the following apply: §968.075(2), Wis. Stats.

17 Intentionally inflicted physical pain, injury or illness Intentionally impaired the victim’s physical condition Constitute 1 st, 2 nd, or 3 rd degree sexual assault Caused the victim to fear they are about to be physically harmed or assaulted

18 Does the Officer… Reasonably believe there is a likelihood of continued abuse (Bodily harm, sexual assault, impairment or threat of harm assault) against the victim Have evidence of physical injury to the victim

19 Consent An officer's decision as to whether or not to arrest may not be based upon the consent of the victim to any subsequent prosecution or on the relationship of the parties. §968.075(3)(c), Wis. Stats.

20 Visible Injury An officer's decision not to arrest may not be based solely upon the absence of visible indications of injury or impairment. §968.075(3)(d), Wis. Stats.

21 Determining The Predominant Aggressor

22 Predominant Aggressor When an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that adult spouses, former spouses, or other adult persons that reside or have resided together or have a child in common, are committing or have committed domestic abuse against each other, the officer does not have to arrest both persons, but should arrest the person whom the officer believes to be the Predominant Aggressor. §968.075(2)(am), Wis. Stats.

23 Self-Defense A person is privileged to threaten or intentionally use force against another for the purpose of preventing or terminating what the person believes to be an unlawful interference with his or her person.

24 ELEMENTS OF SELF-DEFENSE Person using force had a reasonable belief that s/he was at risk of bodily harm. Risk of harm was actual or imminent. The force used was that force reasonably necessary to prevent or stop the infliction of bodily harm.

25 Use of Force Continuum

26 Defensive Actions

27 Dual Arrest The custodial arrest and confinement of two or more people for committing domestic abuse crimes

28 Offenders often use cross complaints to punish victims

29 Consequences of Inappropriate Dual Arrests Lessens ability to prosecute Victims are further victimized Decreases chances victim will seek further help Increases liability Abusers gain power and control

30 Dual Arrests should be limited to those incidents when an officer determines that both parties were mutual combatants, equally involved in the commission of a crime against another person, and neither person was acting in self-defense.

31 The Predominant Aggressor is not necessarily the first person who strikes another person

32 The Predominant Aggressor refers to the person who the investigating officer determines has engaged in criminal behavior and was not acting in a manner consistent with self-defense

33 Determining the Predominant Aggressor, Consider : The intent of the law to protect victims of domestic violence The relative degree of injury or fear inflicted on the persons involved Any history of domestic abuse between the persons, if that history can be reasonably ascertained by the officer

34 Officers Should Also Consider Level of violence Injuries sustained from actions consistent with self-defense include bite marks on the chest, biceps or forearms and scratches on the face, chest, or neck An individual’s ability to defend themselves Past or present signs of fear Use of Power and Control Tactics Criminal history of involved parties Past or present Restraining Orders

35 Frustrations With The Victim

36 What Is The Most Significant Challenge? Victims…too afraid to testify because the suspect has threatened to kill them and/or their children.




40 Stalking


42 Strangulation Intentional Act Over A Sustained Period Of Time…


44 Seek To Understand Before You Wish To Be Understood

45 BARRIERS TO LEAVING Relentless behavior of batterer Fear of what the batterer might do Fear for children Financial dependence Isolation/lack of support

46 Help victims help themselves… What you tell them will make a difference

47 A Victim’s Consent and Cooperation Are The Gateway To A Thorough Investigation

48 I’m afraid for your safety I’m afraid for the safety of your children It will only get worse I’m here for you. You don’t deserve to be abused.” (Sarah Buel) Gathering Evidence “5 Things To Tell A Victim”

49 Preserving The Evidence Safety Plans Shelters Protection Orders Bail Conditions Seizing Firearms and Ammunition Compassion

50 Evaluating Injuries

51 Defensive Injuries Injuries sustained when a person is trying to defend herself or himself Wounds can be either on the victim or the offender Victim admits violence Suspect blames victim

52 Defensive Actions

53 Defensive Injuries Scratches on the face Bites to the hands/chest Injuries to the back, buttocks, or back of legs Scratches to forearm Kicking injuries Other?

54 Female victim defended herself from being hit/strangled by scratching the suspect

55 Offensive Injuries Injuries sustained when attacked Wounds can be on victim or offender Examples: broken nose, stab wounds, black eye, and gun shot wound Example of offensive wound on offender includes gashed knuckles Other?

56 “THE GOLDEN HOUR” Investigating Violence, Threats, and Fears

57 Are You Asking The Right Questions To Gather The Right Evidence? Prosecutor’s Expectations

58 Arrest and Confinement OR Arrest and Conviction Law Enforcement’s Expectations?

59 Arrest And Confinement Gather Enough Evidence to Establish Probable Cause (Minimal Expectations)

60 Arrest And Conviction Gather Enough Evidence to Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

61 Documenting The Violence Collecting The Evidence Necessary To Convince The Jury

62 Investigative Guides

63 Documenting Terror Collecting The Evidence Necessary To Convince The Jury

64 Four Questions

65 What Questions Do Your Dispatchers Ask? Law Enforcement

66 What Does Your Prosecutor Need To Charge and Convict? Law Enforcement

67 What Does Probation and Parole Need to Confine and Revoke? Law Enforcement

68 How Can Advocates Help You Help The Victim Survive? Law Enforcement

69 Why Should You Care? Because it may save your life or the life of a fellow officer

70 Homicide Prevention Firearm Seizures =

71 The information available in a 911 call may save your life and make your case

72 Dispatchers Are… The first one on scene. Able to gather facts and disseminate critical information. Recording the 911 call that may be critical to the outcome of the incident and the disposition of the case. Able to set the tone for the caller and the responding officers

73 Nature Of The Call What is happening or just happened? Is medical attention needed? What are the names of involved? Who is injured and how were they injured? What is the current level of danger? Was a weapon used or did anyone threaten to use a weapon? Are there children present?

74 “ If it isn’t in your report, it didn’t happen”

75 Gather Digital Evidence Squad Video and Audio Personal Video/Audio Recorders Social Media (Phones, Facebook, And Texting)

76 Digital Stalking


78 GPS Tracking

79 Calls From The Jail

80 Evidence Collection 911 Call = threats, admissions, weapons, and background noise History of Violence Observations (Before and After Entry) Victim Statement Suspect Statement Witnesses (Neighbors and children) Photos Predominant Aggressor Risk Assessment

81 Evidence Collection Medical Records Protection Orders Stalking Assessment  GPS  Cyber Stalking  Spyware  Texting  Emailing  Facebook  Twitter (Continued)

82 Documenting the Crime Scene Actual location and adjacent areas:  Overturned furniture  Broken items  Damage to walls, doors, windows  Signs of forced entry  Damage to telephones  Bloodstains

83 Documenting Damaged Clothing  On the victim or offender  Ripped or torn  Bloodstained  Punctured

84 Types of Wounds  On the victim and offender  Typical assault wounds  Defensive wounds  Offensive wounds  Multiple wounds over time

85 Documenting Weapons Firearms, knives, household objects, anything used to threaten or harm the victim:  Fired  Pointed  Thrown  Stabbed  Struck

86 Interview victim in separate room Consider body language, tone of voice, eye contact Ask open-ended questions Be nonjudgmental Respect cultural differences Ask about threats, history of violence, strangulation and stalking Interviewing The Victim

87 Interviewing the Victim  Begin the interview with “you” statements and questions. “How are you feeling?” “I’m sorry this happened to you.” “May I call you by your first name?” “Where would you like to do this interview?”  Asking non-invasive questions at first and showing concern for the victim’s well-being may help the victim to relax and may aid in enabling the investigator to build rapport with the victim.

88 Interviewing the Victim  While the investigation is routine for the officer, it can be traumatic, degrading, and life changing event for the victim.  The officer sets the tone for the investigation:  The victim will assess body language, demeanor and verbal language.

89 Interviewing the Victim  Interview the victim in a room that is separate from where the suspect is interviewed.  Victims may not speak freely if the abuser is present.  The abuser’s presence can intimidate and silence the victim.

90 Interviewing the Victim  Be honest. If the victim provides information that will have to be revealed in court (i.e., child abuse, assaults), tell her in advance.  Listen to the victim’s story before asking questions.

91 Interviewing the Victim  Let the victim know that you are concerned for her safety. Your tone of voice, eye contact and the words you use will convey this message.

92 Interviewing the Victim  Be nonjudgmental when questioning victims.  Ask specific questions about the crime scene and the abuser. Be careful not to blame, accuse or be disbelieving.  Acknowledge the victim’s fear, anxiety, anger or ambivalence about what has occurred. Validate her feelings.

93 Interviewing the Victim  Ask open-ended question like, “And then what happened?” or “Tell me more about that.”  Listen carefully and take accurate notes for inclusion in the report.  If something is unclear, ask specific questions to clarify details.

94 Interviewing the Victim  Keep the victim informed with “we” statements. “We need to review some information together.” “We need to broadcast some information to try to find the suspect.”  Use of the word “we” provides the victim with the sense that this is a team effort, that she has a vital role to play and that she has some sense of control.

95 Interviewing the Victim  Tell the victim what you need with “I” statements. “I need you to remember as much of the details as possible.”  This will reassure the victim that her complaint is being taken seriously and will be handled professionally.

96 Interviewing the Victim  Encourage the victim to ask for an explanation if a question is unclear or if a term is used that is not understood.  Watch the victim’s body language and other non-verbal responses.

97 Interviewing the Victim  When the victim is finished, ask if there is anything else she wants to add.  Don’t ask questions not directly related to the investigation (other than in the rapport building stage).

98 Connect With The Children

99 Impact on Children


101 IMPACT ON CHILDREN Children are often present when battering occurs. Children can be traumatized by witnessing the attacks or Children can get in the way of the attack and receive injuries.

102 IMPACT ON CHILDREN cont. High co-occurrence of domestic violence and child abuse (Abused by the batterer). Batterers use children as a way to maintain control over their victims.

103 CHILDREN LIVING WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE May not exhibit outward cues of the violence they have witnessed. May never discuss the violence nor act-out behaviors that would alert others to the violence.

104 INTERVIEWING CHILDREN Get on the child’s level!

105 INTERVIEWING CHILDREN Location Determine the child’s education level Do not ask leading questions Body language (officer and child) Use child’s language Time, distance, height, weight Never bribe, threaten or coer ce

106 INTERVIEWING CHILDREN Be aware of child’s fear or signs of abuse Be aware of child’s inclination to feel guilty and reassure they are not responsible Do not use children to interpret Do not make promises Closure

107 Remember Why Your Community Needs You?

108 Quick Fixes and Magical Solutions

109 Do What You Do Best

110 Thank You

111 Questions

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