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Friday, November 9, 2007

[MI] Officer-involved dv victims need an independent agency to turn to

...Harrington is pushing a proposal that would create an independent, statewide agency where victims could turn. What she calls a neutral party...

November 9, 2007 - 8:42AM
OTSEGO (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Police believe Kevin Brainard killed his wife Pam, then shot himself last Sunday.

Pam will be laid to rest on Saturday. Kevin's funeral is Friday.

This murder has caught the attention of domestic violence advocates across the Midwest.

One of them calls it a case that proves Michigan needs to change the way it handles police officer domestic violence cases.

Her reason for pushing for this is a belief that victims of domestic abuse committed by police don't feel there's a neutral place they can turn to and report what happening.

"I wish I could have done more and I could have been there for Pam and I feel like I let Pam and her family down," said domestic violence advocate Renee Harrington.

By phone, Harrington broke down, wondering if a change in state law could have prevented Pam Brainard's death.

Friends of the victim tell Newschannel 3 that despite claims of abuse at the hands of her husband, Public Safety Officer Kevin Brainard, Pam never filed a police report.

That is a common problem says Harrington, who believes often victims of domestic violence at the hands of law enforcement don't feel safe turning to local police. Officers often work alongside the accused abuser. Even local domestic violence shelters often hold joint-programs with area cops.

That's why Harrington is pushing a proposal that would create an independent, statewide agency where victims could turn. What she calls a neutral party.

Harrington, who has written state lawmakers following the Brainard case, believes federal funding would cover the costs. It could potentially save lives, and make Michigan a model for other states.

"I believe that victim's number one concern is safety, and if they knew they had a safe place to go to, they would take that opportunity and run with it," said Harrington.

Newschannel 3 did talk with Pam's sister. She supports the idea and says her family has been discussing the need for a system like the one described.

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