Throughout the country and around the world, police departments invest time, funding, and expertise to train law enforcement officers in best practices to reduce incidents of domestic misconduct.
On the very onset the psychological screening and background investigations of the candidate selection process should be screened with intense scrutiny. Candidates with certain traits such as aggression, dishonesty, and substance abuse are more likely to engage in acts of violence against their intimate partner. Through probing interview questions and thorough background checks a good, trained investigator should be able expose attitudes or historical information suggesting the candidate may pose certain unacceptable risk and potential liability for the department. Thus, disqualifying the candidate.
Once the candidate has been selected as a cadet and attending a Law Enforcement Academy, it should be explained to them that members of the law enforcement community are not immune from committing domestic conduct toward their intimate partner. Cadets should be taught and familiarize themselves with departmental policies, state and federal laws related to domestic conduct. The cadet should also be aware of the consequences when such policies and laws are violated and the different types of investigations (administrative/criminally) that are conducted by the department depending on each type of investigation. During the academy, Internal Affairs investigators should reinforce departmental policies to assure cadets are fully aware of any domestic misconduct violations. They should also be informed of Cease-and-Desist orders by Internal Affairs. Academy Instructors will also train cadets in self-reporting whenever an employee is involved an any acts of domestic conduct, whether the employee is the person accused or the victim. Preventing domestic misconduct at the early stages of new officers’ career is essential for the officer and department.
Once the training cadet has completed the academy and probationary period, annual training should be provided on domestic misconduct through the department and other entities. State Legislative training updates are also important for officers to refresh their memories on older laws and newly created laws regarding domestic misconduct. Annual training could prevent or reduce acts of domestic misconduct for many officers. It is important for officers and supervisors be trained continuously to recognize signs that officers may be involved or at a risk of being involved, in domestic violence. As taught in the training academy, officers should still be encouraged to alert supervisors of signs of potential or acts of domestic violence in behavior of fellow officers. Supervisors should also receive additional training when responding to those such reports in appropriate and effective ways. Officers need to know domestic conduct within its ranks is known as unacceptable and unprofessional behavior. With these trainings and measures in place, the culture of the department toward domestic conduct will change and build a more transparent department.
In those incidents when domestic misconduct has occurred by an officer, trained officers should reach out to the officer, victim, family, and provide them with resources and information about available assistance such as EAP (Employee Assistance Program) and other programs. The same trained officers should also conduct a follow up to ensure the wellbeing of all the parties involved and domestic violence has not continued.
In conclusion, continues training of officers from their early beginnings and throughout their careers deters officers from committing acts of domestic conduct. With the training obtained, officers will recognizing the “red flags” of domestic misconduct and report and assist all parties involved. Installing the positive and reinforced training within the law enforcement community will result in less civil liability, personal injury, loss of life, and create public confidence in the department.