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Ask Amanda: How Can I Get Police to Take Action?
When it comes to protection order violations, expert provides advice
- Feb 08, 2016
Q: Why is it so hard to get the police to take action when the no contact part of a protection order is violated? – Sherry Y.
A: You’re not alone in your frustration, Sherry. Former police officer Mark Wynn, who now trains law enforcement in the U.S. and internationally on how to respond to domestic violence, says, “If I could say there’s one issue that gets law enforcement sued more than any other issue in the country, it’s failing to properly enforce a protection order.” The “why” part of your question is hard to answer, says Wynn, but he knows fixing the problem is a matter of getting leaders in law enforcement to make protection orders a higher priority.
“You have special protections from the court when you get a protection order. If law enforcement fails to serve or enforce a protection order, they fail to do the basic function of their job—protecting you. As a law enforcement instructor, it’s a major issue to teach officers about the purpose and function of protection orders.”
The mistake some officers make is to not respond to or file a report about a protection order violation if the offender is no longer on the scene of where he or she showed up to presumably make contact with their victim. “What may seem to be a civil violation could be the precursor to a homicide, and that’s why it can’t be ignored.”
So while Wynn is working behind the scenes with law enforcement, what can you, as the survivor, do if your abuser violates your order of protection? First, says Wynn, contact the police every time the order is violated. “If you don’t get a proper response, reach out to advocates at your local domestic violence organization. Often, an advocate can speak for you to police or prosecuting attorney to help you figure out what’s going on.” Advocates can also help you safety plan should you feel like you’re in danger or if the danger feels like it’s escalating.
Wynn encourages law enforcement agencies to take the protection order enforcement self-assessment on his website. “We use it to evaluate law enforcement agencies around the country. It’s a starting point for many agencies as they improve their services to reach a higher standard.”
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