Deadly Secrets: Violence in the Police Family

By Lott, Lonald D. | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, November 1995 | Go to article overview

Deadly Secrets: Violence in the Police Family


Lott, Lonald D., The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


Early morning telephone calls rarely signal good news; this one was no exception. A fellow officer reluctantly disclosed that one of our officers had beaten his girlfriend badly the previous night. Although I sensed the hesitation in his voice as he briefed me on the incident, we both knew we could no longer avoid the inevitable: We would have to arrest the officer.

Arresting one of your own officers is a difficult task, especially when that officer is a friend. And, although I was saddened by the news, I was not surprised. After all, most everyone in the department knew the officer was having domestic problems. But as I discovered a few days later, the officer's friends also knew that his domestic disputes had turned violent.

The Family Enigma

Through 20 years of police work, three separate law enforcement agencies, and my own failed marriage, I have come to know intimately the innumerable family problems police officers experience. In many ways, police families resemble other families. However, in addition to dealing with the same daily frustrations that confront all families, they must cope with all of the exceptional pressures that accompany police work. This extraordinary stress makes police officers more prone than average citizens to alcoholism, domestic violence, divorce, and suicide.(1)

Clashing Traits

The very nature of police work teaches officers to control their emotions. They discipline their minds to remain focused in dynamic situations, no matter how bizarre or terrifying. Above all, they must prevail in the face of adversity.

Officers learn to interrogate when suspicious, to intimidate or match aggression when challenged, and to dominate when threatened. Granted, these actions are necessary for survival and control. However, when combined with the unfavorable conditions of police work - undesirable shifts, rotating work schedules, days off spent in court, exposure to pain and suffering, and violent confrontations - even exceptional police officers can become very poor spouses, parents, and friends.(2)

Law Enforcement's Response

Sadly, though numerous case studies document the susceptibility of police families to domestic problems, police officers rarely receive advice on avoiding such pitfalls. For the most part, senior officers only admonish rookies to "leave the job at work."

If art imitates life, then the media's portrayal of many police officers as grumpy, quarrelsome, divorced alcoholics is right on target. Indeed, law enforcement seems to have institutionalized marital and family turmoil into the profession.(3)

Do Unto Others

Traditionally, the police have chosen not to get involved in domestic disturbances in the general population. Unless a family fight turned violent and resulted in severe injuries, the police viewed it as a civil problem inappropriate for police attention. Often, the reluctance of law enforcement to get involved led to temporary, nonlegal remedies, designed to ease the tension between the victim and the abuser.

Responding officers might make one party leave the house for a cool-down period. Or, they might convince one partner to apologize and promise not to repeat the behavior. As a general rule, though, officers did not take anyone into custody.

Gradually, however, lawsuits and political activism brought about a change in law enforcement's attitude toward domestic violence. Research indicated that arresting batterers reduced the likelihood of repeat violence, compared with police mediation or similar counseling-oriented intervention techniques.(4) In the face of this emerging empirical evidence, laws dealing with family violence took an extreme turnabout.(5)

Most States enacted legislation mandating police action in cases of suspected family violence. Unfortunately, although officers increasingly became involved in private citizens' family disturbances, they were less diligent in policing their own. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Deadly Secrets: Violence in the Police Family
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.