Domestic Violence from a Former Prosecutor’s Perspective
Domestic Violence calls are some of the most dangerous to carry out in an officer’s commitment to protect and serve.
Early in my career, I served as a prosecutor for several towns in New Jersey and regularly would have to handle domestic violence cases. Many times, by the time they came to see me the parties had calmed down and one or both, wanted to drop the charges against the other and “forget the whole thing”.
I would think to myself that I was getting a very well-behaved version of the two or more people in front of me. They had time to process whatever made emotional to the point of lunacy in some cases. They had time to ponder the issue and the result of the police being called. Now they were scared and wanted to sweep it under the rug.
But when people act irrationally and violently, even if they get the chance to calm down later, there is a price to pay. That price is often unanticipated.
I remember a young New Jersey trooper five years ago who was responding to a domestic violence call in rural southern New Jersey where I used to live. It was a rainy morning and he had to get to the scene fast. Someone was scared, someone was maybe being beaten and might lose their life. The trooper put his own life at risk by driving as fast as he thought he could to the scene. He made a miscalculation and slid into a telephone pole, losing his life in the accident.
Trooper Eli McCarson’s bride lost her husband of four months. The call was for a juvenile in distress. The issue was later resolved. I don’t know what happened to the juvenile. I know what happened to the trooper. Mrs. McCarson cannot forget the whole thing, even if those in the house that day who needed help might be able to.
When people used to tell me, they wanted to forget the whole thing I would ask one of the troopers assigned to our Court to step in and then would ask them if they would not mind showing the defendants what was under their hat. Most state troopers I know tape a picture of their loved ones under their hats. Seeing these pictures I hope helped people to reflect on the ways domestic violence impacts more than just themselves.
By definition, domestic violence includes “any act or threat of serious physical harm against a member of your family or household.” Domestic violence rates in Ohio soared in 2018, with a total of 65,845 total victims, according to the Ohio Attorney General. Domestic violence scenes are often filled with chaos, including yelling, physical injuries, and property damage, and can be volatile for police officers entering the scene. Because domestic violence scenes can be unpredictable and threatening, police officers in Ohio have protocols they are trained in to help at domestic violence scenes.
Our officers are trained so that when we are having our worst day they can step in and save the day. Even on our worst day, we need to do our best to respect them and their innocent loved ones who wait at home praying for their safe return.
For more information see the Ohio Revised Code 2919.25 Domestic violence and 2935.03 Authority to arrest without a warrant – pursuit outside jurisdiction.