As more and more departments struggle with the increased number of “outside the workplace” issues that affect a unit, it is paramount to tackle each one head on. Domestic misconduct can run the gambit of infidelity all the way to full on criminal prosecuted domestic violence cases. These cases have both a nexus with criminal statutes as well as agency policies and are essential topics that require a strong strategy to handle. A solid strategy would include policy, training, and documentation to insure employees are handled with dignity and respect as well as meeting the overall impact that these situations that could negatively impact the department and its mission. In order to tackle the training issue to the best possible level, it would require training on policy, state law, and collaborative training with our partners both in law enforcement and with our regional partners (victims’ advocates, prosecuting attorneys, and resource providers).
The first essential component is development and training of department policies that clearly state the departments intent as it relates to its overall mission and values. The policy must clearly lay out what is acceptable and unacceptable in our domestic environment. It should tackle behavior that deviates from cultural norms (which may or may not vary from state to state and region to region). It should not tap dance around the issue but clearly define what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable. Once this policy is developed, department personnel must clearly understand what unacceptable behavior is and acknowledge the policy. Department training can include scenario-based training, supervisor-led discussions, and case study reviews. As this training is completed, it is essential that it is documented and memorialized.
The next essential training component would include refreshing knowledge on state statutes that ensure our employees fully understand the breath and scope of domestic issues and the legal concerns that each issue brings. If an employee fully understands the state law, comprehends the consequences of the law, and embraces the key indicators for identifying these issues, it will drive home that these elements are embodied in law and embraced by the department. There should be no confusion between what can and should be prosecuted along domestic affair lines both in the workplace and in our homes. This training would incorporate victim advocacy groups as well as VAWA partners. These partners can help re-enforce the impact that domestic issues have on both home and work environments.
The final component to a solid training strategy would include the incorporation of our local, regional, and state-wide partners. Without their buy-in, some offenders will slip through the cracks. Not all employees live with the jurisdictional boundaries of the department, and we want to ensure that our partners understand how serious the department is about domestic misconduct regardless of where it occurs. The disruptive behavior cannot be over-looked, and our partners are essential to ensure that the department is well informed about issues that may arise outside the workplace. A collaborative approach to training shows resolution, and dedication to not only tackling the problems of domestic misconduct but demonstrates a united front to all who will potentially violate them.
In conclusion, a training program that first strengthens policy, refreshes state law, and incorporates our community partners is a solid strategy to tackle domestic misconduct by our employees. To follow this strategy ensures that employees understand this is a well-rounded approach without a way to just “squeak by.” When all aspects of this strategy are incorporated, a deviant who wants to excuse domestic misconduct is forced to accept a three-sided approach that leaves little room for negotiation. Domestic misconduct is a cancer that if allowed to fester will ultimately destroy the integrity of the organization is never within the mission and values of a department striving to be a defender of not only victims but of all persons within our society.