In the wake of domestic abuse scandals involving players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, the National Football League (NFL) took a lot of flak for its lenient attitudes towards players’ family violence. Indeed, reports have shown that the problem extends far beyond Rice and Peterson.
As Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic notes, the recent attention on the NFL’s lack of action ignores how lax the justice system often is on domestic violence — why, after all, are we calling to ban the players as opposed to bringing them up on criminal charges? The population is condemning the league for a leniency that is actually pretty common across the whole of society.
In fact, the NFL has a lower rate of domestic violence than the general population. Citizens’ efforts to raise domestic violence awareness and create a zero-tolerance attitude would be better spent if focused on another national organization — the police.
Several studies have confirmed that domestic abuse rates among police officers are significantly higher than those of the general population. Of all occupations, police officers should be held the most accountable for this sort of violence.
The National Center for Woman and Policing issued an info sheet detailing this disturbing trend:
Two studies have found that at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10 percent of families in the general population.
Victims often fear calling the police, because they know the case will be handled by officers who are colleagues and/or friends of their abuser. Victims of police family violence typically fear that the responding officers will side with their abuser and fail to properly investigate or document the crime.
Even officers who are found guilty of domestic violence are unlikely to be fired, arrested, or referred for prosecution.
Some of the most horrifying instances of violence against the romantic partners of officers end in death. Let’s review.
There’s the retired Colorado officer, a 30-year veteran of the force, who shot his wife and himself last summer. There’s the narcotics officer who broke into his ex-wife’s home and shot her before turning the gun on himself in April 2014. There’s the Utah officer that killed his wife, their two children, his mother-in-law and finally himself after receiving “text messages … hours earlier threatening to leave him and take their kids and confronting him for raping her.”
The list goes on.
Much of the studies and statistics on domestic abuse is shockingly outdated, from the 1990s, but the New York Times issued a report trying to detail the trend. Searching through Florida police records, they found at least 29,000 credible complaints against police officers, suggesting domestic violence, goes heavily under-reported.
In most cases, officers are fired if they once test positive for illegal drugs, including marijuana, but are often allowed to keep their jobs after charges of domestic abuse.
The NFL isn’t the only organization closing their eyes to the problems of domestic abuse — in fact, the police departments, and by extension the US government, has a disturbing trend of turning the other way. That’s what we should be talking about.
For more information, check out the source article at the Atlantic.