Friday, July 31, 2009

Chapter 3: The Danger of Domestic Disputes

It is believed within law enforcement that the most dangerous call that a police officer will receive is one dealing with domestic disputes. Generally, these disputes involve a romantic relationship between persons of the same or opposite sex. Domestic emergency calls are one of the most dangerous because the environment is volatile.

On this call, the victim may be the enemy. A typical call may go like this: Ms. Jones and her live-in boyfriend, Mr. King, constantly battle over Mr. King's allege "cheating" with other women. Mr. King insists that Ms. Jones is jealous and insecure, although the typical signs of lip stick on the collar, women's perfume, and an inconsistent routine is often discovered by Ms. Jones. Ms. Jones insists that she has put Mr. King out on several occasions, but that he "sweet talks" himself back into their apartment. These occurrences have been on-going for over a year and are becoming increasingly violent. Mr. King complains that he needs his space and feels nagged all of the time. Ms. Jones says that she would not nag him if he treated her with respect. To make matters worst, both grew up in households were alcoholism was prevalent. This comes out by both physically fighting each other as a portrayal of what they witnessed growing up. Ms. Jones grabs a knife and threatens to stab Mr. King reminiscent of her mother grabbing weapons to ward off her father from beating her. Mr. King threatens to kill Ms. King and has been cut several times in the past, but nothing life threatening to date. Both are acting out unresolved issues from the past, but insist on blaming the other for their long surviving internal pain.

On one hand, Ms. Jones wants Mr. King to leave, but on the other hand she cannot bare the loss that she feels when he is not around. This is reminiscent of when her father would leave after similar fights with her mother and would not return home for long periods of time. They both have open wounds from the past, but neither has ever addressed their issues. Enter Officer Brown! Officer Brown is familiar with the ongoing struggles of the two and finds himself asking one or the other to leave the apartment for each others safety on a regular basis. Under progressive Domestic Violent Laws, Officer Brown has even arrested the two after seeing cuts and bruises on both parties.

On many occasions, Officer Brown has had to fight Ms. King off of him after she called the police on Mr. King. She seems okay initially and goes berserk when Officer Brown escorts Mr. King out of the door. The challenge for Officer Brown in this scenario that makes the call so dangerous is that he feels that he understands the situation, but does understand why they stay together and what role does the police have in stopping the escalation of future danger. After all, neither party consulted with the police department to ask whether the other party was right for them before they began dating. The police officer is relegated to ameliorating a situation that adults created for themselves. The conflict between Ms. Jones and Mr. King is not a police matter; it is a psychiatric one. But, because they have not sought to take full responsible for their disorders, the police have to serve as perpetual referees. In the beginning of their quarrelling, Ms. King believed that because she called the police, she was immediately in the right, irrespective of the fact that in many instances, Mr. King had sustained the greater injuries. A seasoned and impartial police officer does not care who called 911 first, his responsibility is determine a fair and equitable resolution to the conflict. The officer is ultimately responsible if one of the parties kills the other and handled it as routine call.

The upsurge of spousal murder is a direct result of adults not reaching out asking for help for their internal challenges. The evening news is inundated with stories of an estranged husband or boyfriend who stalks the woman and ultimately shoots her and himself. We hear it some much that we have become immune to it. How can the police become responsible for social ills perpetrated by adults with free will?

The truth of the matter is that the more socially adjusted the individual becomes, the less he or she is inclined to interact with the police on a regular basis. To the extent that the individual has emotional or psychological problems will manifest itself in continuous encounters with the police or persons in authority. This paradigm cuts through all racial, economic, and educational boundaries. If individuals fail to address their personal inadequacies whether it's low self-esteem, insecurities, anger, jealousy, or a tendency for violence, it will come out in a form that has to be dealt with by the people responsible for insuring public order.

Although some police officers themselves may be personally challenged, it would be safe to say that a great majority live orderly lives. We could not blame a few "bad apples" on a police department for an entire profession no more than we could blame the entire postal system for a few dysfunctional postal workers. There will always be flaws in any system where human interaction is involved. As a society, we accept the fallibility of people, but still on a subconscious level look for perfection in certain sectors. We simply cannot reconcile these opposing points of view. It is illogical to view humans as apt to make mistakes, but look for perfection within the judicial system and police departments. After all, we are still talking about people. This is not to absolve the system of its responsibility. As a society, we must demand that people to whom we instill power and control act responsibly, but this is not automatic. If we accept the idea that people generally act in their own self-interest, we empower ourselves to stay on guard when these indulgences go too far. How many times have you been cut off in traffic, forced to make reservations at a restaurant when others did not have to or become overworked by your supervisor because you were seen as more conscientious than your fellow workers?

In most situations, the person is not trying to personally offend you but in looking solely after their own interest, you are overlooked. The same applies in domestic disputes. The parties involved are looking after their own interest and could care less about who they effect. They opt to remain in volatile situations, placing at risk themselves and any one who becomes a part of the environment, because the only pain they feel is their own. There are no outside enemies. The enemies that exist are within the individuals that go unresolved and are manifested by their behavior. Domestic crisis situations will get better only when people become more accountable for their actions.

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