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Sunday, July 12, 2009

[Il] <2005> Insight from retired Police Lt.: Impossible to estimate number of police family homicides...

"...I know it sounds horrible, but one of the first lessons police learn is to protect each other, and it’s that sense of loyalty that dictated our actions..."


POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine

by Gina Gallo
Current Issue, February 2005
[Excerpts] ...Retired Chicago Police Department Homicide Lt. Dennis Banahan believes it would be impossible to estimate the number of domestic homicides that occurred within police families during his 31-year career because of the unofficial protocol for handling such cases. “Since the earliest days of law enforcement, domestic violence in police families was considered an officer’s personal business, one of those private realms into which departmental administrators chose not to involve themselves... Their attitude was that unless the problem affected an officer’s job performance, they’d prefer to ignore it. Whatever happened behind closed doors remained private. Since a large part of a cop’s M.O. is to maintain a game face, personal problems were considered just more of what we were expected to suck up and keep hidden... Our agencies offered nothing but after-the-fact damage control... That’s when the infamous 'Code of Silence' came into play. The first officers arriving at the scene of any cop-involved domestic violence call were expected to be the primary spin doctors... She [the victim] would be told that an arrest would serve no one’s best interests, and would absolutely jeopardize the officer’s job, thereby threatening the family’s security... That was a rationale I always found particularly offensive. In effect, that’s telling a bleeding victim, ‘Hey, sorry about the broken arm and that your nose will never be the same again, but drop a dime on this guy and you’ll all be in the welfare line tomorrow.’... I know it sounds horrible, but one of the first lessons police learn is to protect each other, and it’s that sense of loyalty that dictated our actions. As a rookie cop, I was told that my co-workers’ personal problems weren’t exposed, not in public and certainly not in a police report. In incidents of police domestic violence, it wasn’t simply a case of abuse and injury. It was also about protecting a brother cop’s career... I’ve seen officers neglect to offer victims the option to sign complaints, or not give them the standard victim’s information rights sheets we normally distribute to other abuse victims... Some victims demand to swear out a peace bond, which in Illinois is called an ‘order of protection.’ So our officers might say, truthfully, that there’s no such thing as a peace bond in Illinois. What they don’t mention is the order of protection that can be issued by court order after a police report’s been filed... When the victims took their complaints to a higher level of the Department’s administration, the stonewalling continued... Without a viable alternative plan in place, the brass had nothing to offer the victim and risked adverse media exposure [if they took any action]... When I became a homicide detective, that’s when I saw the results... Too many bricks in that Blue Wall of Silence triggered more domestic homicides and suicides than I care to think about”... [Full article here]
[police officer involved domestic violence law enforcement abuse oidv illinois cpd police culture]

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