What Is Involved in Domestic Violence Law Enforcement?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 29 February 2020
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It is common to find policies that dictate how domestic violence law enforcement should be handled. Police officers are generally required to respond to every report, follow the required procedure each time, and file a report outlining how the incident was handled. When a crime is committed, the individual who created the problem should be arrested. The victim is generally advised of her rights and options.

Domestic violence law enforcement efforts are designed to protect people from being victimized by their family and household members. Many police departments have developed domestic violence policies due to poor handling of matters in the past. The purpose of these policies is to provide structure so that every case can be handled the same way. Policies also aim to prevent law enforcers from treating domestic violence as a household or relationship issue instead of what it is — a crime. To ensure that law enforcers are taking the proper measures, they are often required to write detailed reports about their handling of each incident.


When law enforcers arrive on the scene of a domestic violence dispute, their first objective is generally to establish control. This involves making sure that everyone at the scene is safe and that the police officers are also safe. Then, to begin the investigation, they may also need to get the people calm. It should be a priority to see that, if anyone needs medical attention, they receive it promptly. Once they have gathered details, if it is found that a crime has been committed, law enforcers should arrest the individual who is primarily responsible for the incident. The victim must generally be informed of her rights and options, such as to obtain a protective order or be transported to a shelter.

Domestic violence law enforcement can involve unique challenges, especially when the matter is brought to the attention of the police by a third party. Despite the abuse, many people who are victims of domestic violence are deeply attached to those who hurt them. This often results in victims who are uncooperative when police are trying to obtain information. It is not uncommon for police to arrive at a scene of domestic violence to find that two individuals who were previously fighting have now teamed up to defend one another against law enforcement efforts.

Handling repeated complaints is another challenging issue in domestic violence law enforcement. Police are sometimes called to the same residence multiple times and, upon arrival, find people who claim that no incident has occurred. This can affect officers' motivation to rapidly respond and the priority that an incident is given.

This aggravates the danger for victims, because violence in these situations often becomes progressively worse. If domestic violence cases are not handled properly and an individual is seriously hurt or killed, it can create problems for authorities. Domestic violence law enforcement units are therefore ordered to respond to every report and required to go through every step of an outlined policy.


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