Thursday, June 28, 2007

Police Dept Best Practices

The PG reports, "Women's groups, Ravenstahl meet amid uproar on police promotions". One aspect of the article is disturbing.

The city Police Bureau has a handful of policies dealing with domestic violence involving police officers.
Regulations call for a supervisor to respond to the scene if an officer is involved in suspected domestic violence. Officers are obligated to notify their supervisor if they are named in a civil suit involving allegations of domestic violence.
If an officer is served with a protection from abuse order, the city's Office of Municipal Investigations must be notified.
So, the police bureau's policy regarding domestic violence involving officers is basically for the bureau to be made aware of it. So long as the bureau knows about it, bureau regs are being met. Now, that's crap. When you read the transcript of the OMI interview with former Chief of Police Costa it becomes clear that one reason Officer Frank Rende was not suspended from the bureau for calling off sick numerous times to work side jobs was because of a technicality. Bureau regs called for 'counseling' about the infraction within 120 days for the officer receiving a disciplinary action report.

But for an officer who breaks his wife's nose or leaves marks on his child (while OCYF cleared the officer in this case, generally, leaving marks on a child qualifies for a 'childline' and an investigation into whether it qualifies as child abuse) just notify the officer's supervisor? No 'counseling' on what is going on at home and how this cannot happen again, etc. Maybe leave it to the discretion of each supervisor on how best to handle each individual case. That is not really a policy of remedying a serious behavioral problem among police officers. Whoever it was that said recently (was it Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson?) that domestic violence rates in the Pittsburgh Police Bureau weren't any different than the population at large. Hmmm.

The National Center for Women and Policing produced a "Police Family Violence Fact Sheet" which relays the following:
Two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10% of families in the general population. A third study of older and more experienced officers found a rate of 24%, indicating that domestic violence is 2-4 times more common among police families than American families in general.
And then the mayor was quoted in the article.
More important may be "a long-term policy and plan to deal with domestic violence and domestic abuse," the mayor said, starting with police, but extending throughout the city workforce.
Mayor, and Chief Harper, if you would care enough to take 5 minutes to search the web on best practices for officers committing domestic violence you would find a pre-made comprehensive policy to tailor to your needs that was put out by the International Association of Police Chiefs.
Like the PG indicated, the policy provides for prevention, training, early warning, intervention and responses. That seems like best practices for the dept.