Domestic violence, assault, abuse, sexual assault, racism

It is true that the specifics of defunding the police means something different depending on who you talk to. But the overarching commonality is that it involves providing lower levels of funding to police. And in turn investing those diverted finances towards administrative positions, social services, social programs and communities of colour.

There have been many cities and even countries that have defunded the police. They have seen a wide range of dominantly positive results. We could spend a lot of time talking about all of the obvious benefits.

However, for this article, I’d like to look at some of the negative impacts that are being overlooked by mainstream media. It depends on what defunding the police looks like specifically, but most of the time, I support that move.

This article is not meant to deter people from considering supporting defunding the police. I think most of us realize that should have happened a long time ago.

This article is merely talking about the potential impact that defunding could have in all the areas no one else is really talking about. In no way am I saying these issues are more important, or less important. Just that they will likely exist as we move to defund the police.

The shift in spending

Almost 96% of the calls police respond to are non-violent situations. Although it’s fair to say they may escalate to violence. Regardless, the bulk of police training focuses on handling violent situations. Clearly there appears to be a mismatch between reality and job training.

When engaging with people involving mental health issues, homelessness, addiction and trauma, it often makes more sense for the primary responder to be a social worker, therapist or councellor than it does to be a police officer.

Another element to think about is that a large part of policing involves administrative tasks. Which prevent officers from focusing on solving crimes. This partly explains the low levels of closed cases in serious crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and assault.

It begs the question; what could those case success rates be if police were able to spend more time out in the field solving crimes and less time at a desk?

The inevitable and obvious result

The elephant in the room is that yes, fewer people will have jobs as police officers. As different jobs were created and resources are reallocated, officers will be laid off or terminated.

What I’d like to focus on is what police losing their jobs would mean for them, but also society at large. What will the ripple effects likely be?

This is a three part article. In this first part, we will consider what the ripples will look like inside the home. And the impact defunding the police could have on the family members of police households.


Consider you’re being abused by someone who not only works within the organization you would file a complaint with. And that your abuser also has access to the shelters you would seek refuge in. Realistically, are you likely to file a complaint?

When your abuser has access to a firearm. In addition to an intimate knowledge of the loopholes within the legal system. The same legal system you would depend on for protection and justice. Do you really think you would be comfortable filing a complaint?

It stands to reason that there are likely many domestic abusers who will never be reported. So whatever we do know about the stats, we have to understand that the figures are higher. The only question is: how much higher?

The figures

A commonly cited statistic about police officers is that 40% of police officers with a partner and/or children are domestic abusers. However, this study is almost 30 years old and more recent data is all but impossible to find.

Yet there are data points we do know for sure. Of all occupations, police experience the highest rates of workplace violent crime.

And 27% of all violent events that occur in a workplace can be tied to some form of domestic violence. We also know that exposure to violence desensitizes people to violent acts.

A study from 2013 found that more than 50% of officers who were arrested, charged and convicted of abuse were not fired from their job. The same study examined 226 law enforcement agencies and discovered 281 cases of domestic abuse arrests.

Breaking down the statistics

We cannot say for sure if the 40% statistic is still relevant. But, we can make some educated guesses based on the 2013 study. More than 50% of people who are convicted of a violent offence are not fired from their job.

A job that provides them an obvious source of power. One that also entails them dealing with vulnerable groups for the majority of their shifts. We need to ask ourselves what does that say about the culture of the organization?

If of 226 agencies, there’s an average of more than 1 domestic violence conviction. What does that tell us about the culture?

Indeed the 40% stat from three decades ago is dated. But a significant overlap between police officers and domestic abusers likely still remains. It’s worth noting, the protections for domestic abuse victims have not improved since the study.

We also know that cop domestic abusers frequently threaten their spouses against filing police reports. Since they’d be filing a report with their partner’s coworkers, this is a viable threat to make.

Kellie Chauvin will be the first of many

We know too that 4 officers were directly involved in George Floyd’s murder. And that all of them have had multiple complaints against them in the past, up to and including murder.

When we look at people like Kellie Chauvin. The woman who filed for divorce from her husband Derek Chauvin. She did so immediately after he was arrested for the murder of George Floyd. I suspect she is only the first of many police wives who will seize an opportunity to flee to safety.

It’s fair to be suspicious of the timing of Kellie Chauvin leaving her husband. But there are many components we should consider. Especially before rushing to a conclusion on something we will never truly have insight into.

The reality

The mayor of Minneapolis has defended the police who ran their cars into peaceful protestors. So I would venture a guess white supremacy is thriving in that city. And that it’s not limited to just the police force.

Who could an Asian person file a domestic abuse claim against a white police officer, with? Especially when the previous complaints against the 4 officers mentioned above have almost all been dismissed or left pending?

Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the justice system or inspire a feeling of safety for victims. Yes, she absolutely could be looking to protect their assets from a lawsuit. Yes she could absolutely be looking to keep her image intact as well.

Maybe it’s naive of me to say, but perhaps Kellie Chauvin could be another one of her husband’s victims too. And perhaps, this was the best opportunity for escape that she had in their 10+ years together.

Think about what we do know about rates of domestic abuse within police and why victims don’t come forward. I suspect that as abusers are let go of their policing positions, victims will feel more confident in the justice system protecting them and in accessing shelters and resources. There are likely to be many Kellie Chauvins as defunding the police progresses.

Increased rates of domestic abuse

We know abusive people have not developed the skills required to handle their emotions in any healthy or positive way. Their response to stress is to be abusive.

Job loss is one of the most significant stressors in life. Logically this will lead to higher rates of abuse within homes where abusers reside.

Financial difficulty is actually one of the triggers for domestic violence. Therefore becomes doubly problematic for families that will soon have unemployed officers who are also domestic abusers.

We’ve seen a noticeable increase in domestic abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown. I suspect a similar trend will emerge during defunding. When these particular unemployed former officers are dealing with the stress of seeking employment.

And also coming to terms with a loss of (professional) power. All while being at home more than usual, it’s nearly impossible to envision them not reacting violently.

In this scenario it’s only a question of by how much will cases of domestic abuse rise?

Click here to read part two of this series.