Bush signs law to help fight police domestic violence
By Peggy Andersen
Corvallis Gazette-Times, Associated Press writer
Last modified Thursday, January 5, 2006
SEATTLE — Lane Judson promised his daughter on her deathbed that he would do something to protect families of police officers from domestic violence. On Thursday, President Bush signed legislation aiming to do just that.
Crystal Judson Brame, a mother of two, was 35 when she was mortally wounded by her husband, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame, before he killed himself on April 26, 2003, in a shopping center parking lot. She died a week later.
“If we can just save one life out of this — that’s what we’re after," her father told The Associated Press Thursday in a telephone interview from his home in Gig Harbor. “Something good had to come out of this tragedy."
The Brame protocol, now a provision of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, would provide up to $186 million in grants to law enforcement agencies to educate officers and supervisors, and provide trained advocates for victims, said Christine Hanson in the office of Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.
The provision, part of a larger program of training grants for law enforcement, is the first federal law addressing domestic violence within police ranks, Hanson said.
“Let’s bring this out of the closet," Judson said. “That’s where sex harassment and racism were 20, 30 years ago. ... I just think it needs to be brought out and looked at."
Judson and his wife, Patty, have worked since Crystal’s death to light up the darkness surrounding domestic violence among the nation’s law officers. They led a successful push for state legislation requiring police agencies to adopt tough policies regarding domestic violence among officers was signed into law in March 2004.
Three years ago, some Tacoma officials were aware there were problems with the police chief’s marriage. The couple had filed for divorce, and there were allegations of domestic violence on both sides. No one intervened. Some officials later said they considered the Brames’ marital difficulties a private matter.
“Domestic violence is not a private matter," said Judson, 70, a retired Boeing manager. “Domestic violence is a crime. ... It costs this country billions of dollars each year. It’s an epidemic."
If domestic violence among the nation’s 800,000 police officers occurs at the 10 percent rate estimated for the general population, some studies say the police rate is four times that, then 80,000 families are in trouble.
Many departments believe the issue is covered by general policies related to criminal behavior by officers. But studies indicate that many officers feel marital problems are private — and they feel protective of fellow officers, resulting in special difficulties with both enforcement and safe shelter.
“If you’re the one who’s supposed to be protecting citizens and upholding the law, then you shouldn’t be breaking it," Judson said.
The Judsons have learned a lot about domestic violence in police ranks since their daughter’s death. The Judsons said Crystal told them that when she spoke of going to the police, David Brame would say something like, “Go ahead and call the police. I am the police. Who’s going to believe you?"
In their fight for change, the Judsons enlisted family, friends and concerned people around the country to sign letters sent off to members of Washington’s congressional delegation. Most of the envelopes were hand-addressed and stamped by Patty Judson. At least 10,000 were sent.
Police organizations also backed the legislation, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which has established a model domestic-violence program for police agencies.
In December, the family got word that the Crystal Judson Brame Domestic Violence Protocol Program had passed the Senate and was going to the House one week before Christmas.
The office of U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., advised them to watch C-SPAN the next day. The whole family got together to watch — including her sister’s family and Crystal’s children, Haley, 11, and David, 8, who witnessed the shooting.
“The children just couldn’t believe it — to hear their mama’s name brought up on the floor of the U.S. House," Judson recalled.
On Dec. 22, Inslee, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash, honored the Judsons for their efforts, which also helped create the Crystal Judson Domestic Violence Center that opens Jan. 20 to provide counseling, referrals for shelter and related services for Pierce County residents.
Image above: President Bush during the signing of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 in the Oval Office on Thursday, in Washington. From left are Rep. Mark Green, R- Wisc., first lady Laura Bush, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R- Utah, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R- Wisc., Bush, Rep. Richard Larsen, D-Wash., and Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif.