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Best Practices Citizens - reporting violence Advocates - supporting victims Police - gathering evidence Prosecutors - holding abusers accountable Probation and Parole – holding abusers accountable
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dual Arrest The custodial arrest and confinement of two or more people for committing domestic abuse crimes
Offenders often use cross complaints to punish victims
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
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.
The Predominant Aggressor is not necessarily the first person who strikes another person
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
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
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
Seek To Understand Before You Wish To Be Understood
BARRIERS TO LEAVING Relentless behavior of batterer Fear of what the batterer might do Fear for children Financial dependence Isolation/lack of support
Help victims help themselves… What you tell them will make a difference
A Victim’s Consent and Cooperation Are The Gateway To A Thorough Investigation
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”
Preserving The Evidence Safety Plans Shelters Protection Orders Bail Conditions Seizing Firearms and Ammunition Compassion
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?
Female victim defended herself from being hit/strangled by scratching the suspect
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?
“THE GOLDEN HOUR” Investigating Violence, Threats, and Fears
Are You Asking The Right Questions To Gather The Right Evidence? Prosecutor’s Expectations
Arrest and Confinement OR Arrest and Conviction Law Enforcement’s Expectations?
Arrest And Confinement Gather Enough Evidence to Establish Probable Cause (Minimal Expectations)
Arrest And Conviction Gather Enough Evidence to Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Documenting The Violence Collecting The Evidence Necessary To Convince The Jury
The information available in a 911 call may save your life and make your case
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
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?
“ If it isn’t in your report, it didn’t happen”
Gather Digital Evidence Squad Video and Audio Personal Video/Audio Recorders Social Media (Phones, Facebook, And Texting)
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
Documenting Damaged Clothing On the victim or offender Ripped or torn Bloodstained Punctured
Types of Wounds On the victim and offender Typical assault wounds Defensive wounds Offensive wounds Multiple wounds over time
Documenting Weapons Firearms, knives, household objects, anything used to threaten or harm the victim: Fired Pointed Thrown Stabbed Struck
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
INTERVIEWING CHILDREN Get on the child’s level!
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
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
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