Domestic abuse, assault, murder, suicide, stalking, gun violence

In part one we looked at some of the domestic effects of police being laid off and fired as more agencies experience defunding due to the realization that policing is not as effective as it could be. In part two, I’d like to consider the lethal potential ripples withing households as defunding continues.

Unfortunately there is little data when it comes to the rates of domestic violence and domestic homicide for some groups. Namely people with disabilities and people who identify as LGBTQ+.

However, we do know the rates of domestic violence within police families is much higher than non police families. We also know that the rates of domestic violence among people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ community is also higher than their counterparts.

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the rates of violence inflicted upon police spouses who belong to these communities is higher than among their peer group.

Increased rates of domestic homicide

While it’s fair to speculate that domestic violence will rise, the progression of that behaviour is domestic homicide, and that statistic will likely rise too.

Male partners are the killers of over half of all female homicide victims. There are numerous studies that demonstrate the correlation between being a victim of domestic abuse and the increased risk of being murdered by the abuser.

In fact, Dr Monckton Smith conducted a relevant study. She examined the behaviour of heterosexual and gay male domestic abusers who killed their partner. From this she was able to reveal a consistent eight step pattern.

Dr. Monckton Smith’s findings

  1. A pre-relationship history of stalking or abuse by the perpetrator
  2. The romance developing quickly into a serious relationship
  3. The relationship becoming dominated by coercive control
  4. trigger to threaten the perpetrator’s control – for example, the relationship ends or the perpetrator gets into financial difficulty
  5. Escalation – an increase in the intensity or frequency of the partner’s control tactics, such as by stalking or threatening suicide
  6. The perpetrator has a change in thinking – choosing to move on, either through revenge or by homicide
  7. Planning – the perpetrator might buy weapons or seek opportunities to get the victim alone
  8. Homicide – the perpetrator kills his or her partner, and possibly hurts others such as the victim’s children

Breaking it down

Stage four is particularly concerning. Job loss and financial loss are two major life stressors that serve as probable triggers. It does seem that with domestic violence, it’s more a matter of when will abusers kill their victim, not if.

All races of WOC experience greater rates of domestic abuse and homicide than their white counterparts. However it is important to note than socioeconomic factors such as income play a large role.

Remember how the common trigger for stage 4 was experiencing financial difficulty? Black women specifically are twice as likely to be killed by a firearm than white women in a domestic violence situation.

Murder suicides

Murder suicides account for 5% of all homicides in America. Almost 78% of the cases involve a male perpetrator. And his primary victim is his female partner nearly 70% of the time. However in 25% of cases there are multiple victims, typically family members.

It’s hard to ignore the misogynoir component involved in this particular statistic, but I’d like to dedicate a separate article to that topic to explore it further.

Domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes in the country. Consequently, it’s difficult to know exactly what the number of cases are. But with the cases we do know of, 30% of the murder suicides involve a history of domestic abuse.

How much higher will this number climb as police officers with a history of domestic abuse are are laid off? How many spouses and children are now at a much greater risk?

Correlation between police and ownership of guns for personal use

In researching for this article there were a few things that surprised and disturbed me. Perhaps you’ll have the same reaction to learning that some police departments, such as Fort Lauderdale, permit police to use their personally-licensed rifles at work.

It’s not uncommon for police departments to NOT issue firearms but require officers to supply their own.

Would this not possibly be motivation for police departments to dismiss reports made against their officers regarding domestic abuse? Who would want to face that unsettling reality? Perhaps not all individuals who possess the weapon they own personally and use professionally are emotionally stable.

Furthermore, it’s disturbing to acknowledge that this person takes that weapon home at the end of their shift. And that they might also be violent towards their family members.

Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act

What is perhaps even more surprising, and significantly more troubling, is the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act. Which allows any police officer, either presently employed in law enforcement, or retired to carry a concealed personal-use firearm.

This act covers almost anywhere in America regardless of the laws in that jurisdiction. There are few exceptions to this law. But there are qualifiers and consequently not every officer is privileged to take advantage of this law.

However, while the qualifying speaks to officers being ineligible if they have current disciplinary action against them, there is no mention of former disciplinary actions. Why is there no regard for a history of violence? We know this is the best indicator of the potential for someone to commit future acts of violence.

Studies have shown that women living in homes with firearms are at a greater risk of death by guns. To be precise, women who purchase firearms in an effort to protect themselves are twice as likely to be killed by a gun than women who are unarmed.

In fact, “[a] study of female intimate partner homicide risk factors found that even for women who lived apart from their abuser, there was no evidence of protective impact from owning a gun.”

Rise in suicides due to police being fired

Suicide by firearm is the most common method of death resulting from suicide (as oppose to attempted, but uncompleted suicides). Depression (and other mental illness) are the number one cited reason for people attempting suicide.

Of course job loss impacts everyone differently, but there is a strong correlation between that experience and depression. Additionally, hopelessness and “feeling like a burden” are the other two most dominantly reasons for attempting suicide. These are also frequently felt by people who are unemployed.

Women attempt suicide between 3 and 4 times more frequently than men. Men typically chose much more lethal methods and consequently have a higher rate of completion.

White males account for over 70% of suicides in America. There’s no data on the figure specific to the number of white males in policing. But men make up over 82% of police employees and two thirds of all police are white.

Even more alarmingly, of all professions, police are at the highest risk of suicide. In fact, officers are three time more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. This is attributed to untreated rates of PTSD that occurs while on the job.

This becomes compounded with the reality of job loss and the loss of medical benefits that could have potentially covered therapy to treat mental illnesses such as depression and PTSD.

There is another part to these possible ripple effects, how will police react on the job to defunding within law enforcement?

We will take a look at this side in part three. Click here to keep reading.