By Michael Rizzo, guest blogger, Project Manager, National Law Enforcement Leadership Initiative on Violence Against Women
In response to a bill that was introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives that would allow criminal penalties for petitioners of protection orders who ‘violate’ their own orders, the IACP Victim Services Committee drafted a resolution that opposes such policies. At the 119th IACP Annual Conference held in San Diego last month, this resolution was adopted by the Association.
The resolution emphasizes that such bills/policies are harmful and counterintuitive and take a tool that is meant to minimize violence and protect victims of domestic violence, stalking, and/or sexual assault and uses it to punish them thus damaging trust in the criminal justice system. The Committee believes arrest of a petitioner can create victim reluctance to seek law enforcement help and increase victim isolation.
Additionally, arrest of victims bolsters the perpetrator’s power and control. Protection orders are meant to prohibit and proscribe certain actions by an abusive party. Arresting a petitioner shifts the focus from the actions of the perpetrators, who is clearly violating an order, to the actions of the victim. This creates a structure of limited accountability for the abuser and eliminates the repercussions for contacting the victim.
The resolution can also be found at HERE along with all resolutions adopted at this year’s Conference. This resolution should be disseminated to those who work on policy development and can also be used as a training tool for department members; it is imperative that we educate law enforcement about the potential harmful effects and ramifications of arresting victims for violations of protections orders. The crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are complicated and multifaceted.
For more information on all IACP violence against women tools, resources, and trainings, please visit: the IACP website.