International Association of Chiefs of Police
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BY POLICE OFFICERS
A Policy of the IACP
Police Response to Violence Against Women Project
Effective Date: July 2003
This policy recognizes that the profession of law enforcement is not immune from members committing domestic violence against their intimate partners. The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures for handling acts of domestic violence committed by police officers and for implementing prevention strategies. This policy will provide police executives, officers, and all department employees guidance in addressing incidents where one (or more) party to a reported domestic violence incident is an employee, whether sworn or civilian, of any rank in the department.
II) POLICY STATEMENT
This policy offers a comprehensive, pro-active approach to domestic violence by police department employees with an emphasis on victim safety. It delineates a position of zero tolerance by the department. It is imperative to the integrity of the profession of policing and the sense of trust communities have in their local law enforcement agencies that leaders, through the adoption of clear policies, make a definitive statement that domestic violence will not be tolerated. In the process of implementing this policy, the department should review the records of all employees to determine whether convictions for qualifying misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence *(MCDV) or valid protection orders exist. If an employee is found to have a MCDV or is the subject of a qualifying protection order, department legal counsel and/or city/county attorney shall be consulted immediately regarding continued employment or duty assignment.
Federal law prohibits police officers convicted of qualifying misdemeanor domestic violence crimes from possessing firearms.
Officers found guilty of a qualifying domestic violence crime through criminal proceedings shall be terminated.
For the definitions of qualifying misdemeanor crime of domestic violence and qualifying order of protection that trigger federal firearm provisions, see the Concepts and Issues Paper, page 1, section B, Definitions.
"Domestic violence" refers to an act or pattern of violence perpetrated by a police officer upon his or her intimate partner not done in defense of self or others, including but not limited to the following:
Bodily injury or threat of imminent bodily injury
Property crime directed at the victim
Violation of a court order of protection or similar injunction
Death threats or death
An "intimate partner" of a police officer is any person who meets one or more of the following criteria:
Is or was legally married to the police officer
Has a child in common with the police officer
Has or had a dating relationship with the police officer
Is specified as an intimate partner by state law
Is cohabitating or has cohabitated romantically with the police officer
"Protection order" refers to any injunction or other order issued by a court, including criminal or civil orders of protection, regardless of form, content, length, layout, or name (such as stay away, restraining, criminal, and emergency or temporary protection orders or injunctions), issued for the purpose of preventing the following:
Violent or threatening acts against another person
Stalking or harassment of another person
Contact or communication with another person
• Physical proximity to another person
While prioritizing the safety of victims, this policy is designed to address prevention through hiring and training practices, provide direction to supervisors for intervention when warning signs of domestic violence are evident, institutionalize a structured response to reported incidents of domestic violence involving officers, and offer direction for conducting the subsequent administrative and criminal investigations. Components of the policy include:
A) Prevention and Training B) Early Warning and Intervention C) Incident Response Protocols D) Victim Safety and Protection
E) Post-Incident Administrative and Criminal Decisions.
A) PREVENTION AND TRAINING The department will adhere to a zero-tolerance policy towards police officer domestic violence and will not tolerate violations of the policy. The department will provide ongoing training to every officer on domestic violence and the zero-tolerance policy throughout all phases of the police officer's career.
1) Prevention Through Collaboration
(a) Through ongoing partnerships with local victim advocacy organizations the department shall develop domestic violence curricula and train officers in order to enhance the officers’/agency’s response to victims.
(b) The department shall provide local domestic violence victim advocacy organizations copies of all domestic violence training curricula, protocols and policies for review and possible revision.
2) Training Topics
Upon implementation of this policy, all officers shall receive comprehensive mandatory instruction covering the following topics:
(a) Understanding Domestic Violence
(b) Departmental Domestic Violence
i. Response Protocol
(c) Warning Signs of Domestic Violence by Officers
(d) Victim Safety
(e) Federal Domestic Violence Laws
(For details on these training topics, see Concepts and Issues Paper, section A) Prevention and Training, #2)
3) Ongoing Training
Departments shall use a variety of training techniques including in-service, roll-call, FTO, ride-alongs, and training bulletins to regularly reinforce standards of effective response protocol.
4) Program Evaluation
To enhance the effectiveness of the training, departments should work with internal or external research resources to evaluate the training and its impact.
B) EARLY WARNING AND INTERVENTION
1) Pre-Hire Screening and Investigation
(a) Certification agencies and/or departments shall conduct thorough background investigations of all potential new employees using address history, driver's record, protection order database and a search on IADLEST.
(b) All candidates shall be asked if they have engaged in or been investigated for domestic violence and asked about any past arrests, suspended sentences, diversion programs, convictions, and protection orders related to elder abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence.
(c) Those candidates with a history of perpetrating violence (to include: elder abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence) should be screened out at this point in the hiring process.
(d) Candidates shall be clearly informed of the department's position of zero tolerance concerning domestic violence by officers.
2) Post Conditional Offer of Employment
(a) The psychological screening of all viable candidates will focus on indicators of abusive tendencies in their background.
(b) Departments should strongly consider a no-hire decision in the case of a candidate with tendencies indicative of abusive behavior.
3) Post-Hire Intervention
(a) When new officers are hired, the department shall reach out to their intimate partners/family members to introduce this policy and other relevant department policies.
(b) Departments should engage in periodic outreach to officers and their intimate partners/family members with information on this policy, the point of contact within the department and referrals for local support services.
IACP July 2003 2
4) Department Responsibilities
(a) The department shall develop cross-jurisdictional MOUs to ensure timely notification of an incident involving an officer.
(b) The department shall, either in response to observed warning signs or at the request of an officer, intimate partner, or other family member, provide non-punitive avenues of assistance before an act of domestic violence occurs.
(c) The department shall inform officers of the procedure for seeking confidential referrals, either internally or externally, to confidential counseling services.
(d) A disclosure on the part of any officer, intimate partner or family member to any member of the department that an officer has personally engaged in domestic violence will be treated as an admission or report of a crime and shall be investigated both administratively and criminally.
5) Supervisor Responsibilities
(a) Supervisors shall be cognizant of and document any pattern of abusive behavior potentially indicative of domestic violence including but not limited to the following:
a. Excessive and/or increased use of force on the job
b. Stalking and inappropriate surveillance activities
c. Unusually high incidences of physical altercations and verbal disputes
d. Citizen and fellow officer complaints of unwarranted aggression and verbal abuse
e. Inappropriate treatment of animals
f. On- or off-duty officer injuries
ii. Domestic violence-related issues
a. Monitoring and controlling any family member or intimate partner through such means as excessive phone calling
b. Stalking any intimate partner or family member
c. Discrediting and/or disparaging an intimate partner
iii. Deteriorating work performance
b. Excessive absences
c. Alcohol and drug abuse
(b) When the supervisor notes a pattern of problematic behavior (as detailed above), the supervisor shall:
i. Address the behaviors through a review or other contact with the officer and document all contacts
ii. Forward written reports capturing the behaviors to the chief through the chain of command in a timely manner to determine discipline as warranted
iii. Prepare and submit to the chief a written request for a psychological exam/ counseling by a psychologist/psychiatrist who is knowledgeable about domestic violence.
iv. When warranted, request the chief order an officer to seek assistance from a certified program for batterers, and if such a program is not available, a counselor knowledgeable about domestic violence.
6) Police Officer Responsibilities
(a) Officers are encouraged to take personal responsibility in seeking confidential referrals and assistance from the department to prevent a problem from escalating to the level of criminal conduct against an intimate partner.
(b) Officers who engage in the following actions will be subject to severe discipline up to and including dismissal:
i. Failure to report knowledge of abuse or violence involving a fellow officer
ii. Failure to cooperate with the investigation of a police officer domestic violence case (except in the case where that officer is the victim)
iii. Interference with cases involving themselves or fellow officers
iv. Intimidation/coercion of witnesses or victims (i.e., surveillance, harassment, stalking, threatening, or falsely reporting)
(c) Officers who learn they are the subject of a criminal investigation, regardless of jurisdiction, are required to immediately make a report to their supervisors and provide notice of the court dates, times, appearances, and proceedings. Failure to do so may result in severe discipline up to and including dismissal.
IACP July 2003