Written by Victoria Marion

Safety First

            Regardless of cultural influence or threat to the officer’s job, a victim’s safety is the first intervention in domestic violence.  Research has revealed a high rate of homicide-suicide involving domestic violence among the police profession. This may be due to the accessibility to weapons within law enforcement. 
Although the solidarity among police has been evident since its existence, the law enforcement community should be enforcing solidarity and integrity as one.  Protecting fellow officers who engage in domestic violence not only tarnishes the reputation for the law enforcement community as a whole, but fellow officers are ending their lives and the lives of their loved ones through homicide/suicide. In the end, the officers are not protecting their fellow officer, but helping them to commit a crime and potentially ending the life of the victim and the fellow officer.  

Zero Tolerance Policy

A zero-tolerance policy should be enacted by all police departments.  In addition the development of domestic violence policy within the police department is needed to guide officers in handling domestic calls, understanding procedures and protocols when one of their own is charged with domestic violence. Many times officers do not know what to do if an officer within their department has engaged in domestic violence; leaving it up to each individual officer’s discretion on whether to arrest the officer or look the other way.


Domestic violence calls within the general public are among the most dangerous for police officers. For this reason, police officers are educated in the dynamics of domestic violence, psychology of the victim and perpetrator to increase safety for the officer. The police officer who batters takes advantage of this knowledge and uses it against the victim to further intimidate, harass, coerce, and terrorize.
Educating law enforcement personnel on domestic violence by a police officer will have the same potential outcomes; however, education on this topic is an obligation. In fact, one of the questions on the oral review board during the pre-employment exam includes this question “If your partner was caught doing……How would you respond?” and the police candidate gives the obvious answer…. “I would report it to my supervisor.” But, in the real world, this does not always happen.
It is also important to understand how the stressors of police work can affect police officers. Police officers without psychopathological personality traits may engage in domestic violence as a result of negative stressors as seen in police work; therefore it is vital for officers to understand their “triggers” or when they are exhibiting signs of stress that begin to affect their overall well-being, sleep pattern, eating pattern, anxiety level, and relationships.  This does not excuse the officer’s actions, but it can shed light on the officer’s behavior if they self-evaluate their feelings and behaviors.

Healthy Lifestyles

 Another suggestion in the prevention of domestic violence among law enforcement is monitoring officers for occupational stress, offering family assistance, and providing routine psychiatric evaluations. Police work is not only stressful and can be dangerous, but it can also result in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to critical incidents or constant negative stressors. PTSD is linked to anger outbursts, aggression and substance use. 
Healthy lifestyles should be part of law enforcement education. Understanding individual limitations and stress levels will help to prevent anger outbursts directed at citizens and in the officer's personal life. Promoting a healthy diet, exercise, and overall balance for well-being is recommended. A healthy balance includes physical, emotional/psychological, occupational, social, spiritual, and intellectual well-being in promoting healthy lifestyles.
If you would like more information, education, and training on police perpetrated domestic violence contact us today. We provide education to police departments, domestic violence shelters, local, state, and federal organizations.