©1999 - 2012
Edward D. Reuss
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To This we are Committed

Domestic violence is covertly committed by the perpetrator and often assiduously concealed by both perpetrator and victim. By its very nature and necessity, domestic violence is a private, secret, and often hidden enigma. Although it is most often hidden from public view, violence in our homes is a problem that we all should be universally conscious of and concerned about. The predominant purpose of this column is to inject a rational and reasoned law enforcement perspective into the clamorous debate that divides so many of us concerning this issue. In March of 2000 two professors from State University New York (SUNY) College at Fredonia made a presentation in New Orleans concerning the perception of domestic violence and police officers. It was the most refreshing presentation I have read to date. Long story short is that the police do care about domestic violence. They write that it is often a source of personal satisfaction when an officers makes an arrest of a abuser and is part of a change for the better for the victim and the victims children. They have concluded that most experts do not really understand just what the police think of or want to do about domestic violence. This forum is meant to provide an opportunity for police officers to suggest change for the better. We all know that change is needed.

These pages will be specifically designed to provide an interactive forum for law enforcement professionals to bridge the information gap between those of us in the criminal justice field, other professionals, and the community we serve. If you have information that others have, place it here. However, if all you have is criticism without remedy, please keep it to yourself. The easiest thing in the world to do is to tell others what they are doing wrong while having no answers yourself. Many of us know what is wrong, what we want to know is what is right? And there remains not a gap but a chasm of misinformation between criminal justice agencies.

Wilfredo Cordero, a former player for the Boston Red Sox, now with the Chicago Cub, was arrested in 1997 by the Cambridge, Massachusetts police and charged with hitting his wife with a telephone, choking her, and then threatening to kill her. After his arrest an assistant court clerk released him on $200 cash bail. The fact is that this type of procedure occurs day after day across this nation, yet his immediate release was treated by many professionals in Massachusetts as an aberration. Some other facts and fallacies about this event. The Boston Globe wrote that the police may have released Cordero because of his celebrity status. The fact is that the police did not have the authority to hold Cordero and it was not the police who released him. The fact is that he was released by a court clerk following the same policy and procedure that has released thousands of people across the Commonwealth and this nation under these same circumstances. The judge involved who issued an emergency restraining order told the Globe that the police assured him they would hold Cordero overnight. The fact is that if the police did tell the judge that they, the police, would hold Cordero the judge should have known that the police have no authority to do so. The judge told the Globe that he wanted Cordero held for a cooling-off period. The fact is that the judge should have known there is no law that allows for such a cooling-off period. The district attorney involved stated that, "it is very rare for a person accused of domestic violence to be immediately released." The fact is that this type of incident is not rare [Cordero's release] and it can and does occur regularly in the district attorneys' county and every other county in Massachusetts every night of the year. A Boston attorney, an expert on domestic violence, stated that "accused batterers are customarily jailed overnight." The fact is that the only perpetrators of domestic violence who are legally held overnight or on weekends are those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and who can not afford bail or those who are not legally provided a bail review. Dan Duquette, the Boston Red Sox general manager, stated, "he believed that this incident was a private family issue." The fact is that it for many years now it is a crime to beat your wife, any other family member or intimate partner. Many baseball players stated that they did not think Cordero "was that kind of person." The fact is that Cordero himself did not think he was that kind of person and in an ESPN television interview insisted that he was not the kind of person who would hurt his wife and that he did not need counseling. On November 4, 1997 Cordero pleaded guilty and was given a suspended sentence of ninety days and sentenced to complete a forty-week state approved domestic violence course for batterers. The assistant district attorney assigned to the case said she was pleased with the sentence. Not a single day in jail, no fine for someone who made $3.5 million, and a sentence to attend a batterers program where there is very little empirical evidence that the program is effective. In fact many advocates who manage programs for batterers acknowledge that the batterers often will simply return to their prior behavior. This sorrowful incident demonstrates that only limited verifiable progress, other than the arrest process by police departments, has been accomplished. Little to no thought seems to have been given by our public policymakers to the logistical problems many of these legislative changes have created. And given my own premise, yes I do have suggestion for change for the better and will address those changes in the months to come.

This interaction on these pages is intended to enable each of us in the criminal justice system to make more informed choices and to communicate more effectively with each other. We believe that the members of the criminal justice system are our most important resource, and we value each individual as a unique and contributing member. The voices of police officers in particular need to be heard. We need your input on these pages to help develop and facilitate responses that are innovative and that have potential for eliminating or reducing the numbers of victims and abusers. This will require on-going commitment to developing long-term and pro-active strategies and programs to address the underlying conditions that cause domestic violence.

Discussion Question:

Do you believe that the criminal justice system can prevent domestic violence? If not why not and if so how so?

Richard L. Davis, the author of "Domestic Violence: Facts and Fallacies", Praeger Publishers, Westport CT (1998), retired after 21 years of service with the Brockton, Massachusetts Police Department, he is a Domestic Violence Intervention and Programs consultant.

Copyright © 2000 Richard L. Davis



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