Between 2014 and 2020, a complaint of sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence, or harassment was made every ten days.
The average rate of families who experience domestic violence in the country is around 10 percent. When we look at police officers’ families, however, that number quadruples.
As the National Center for Women and Policing points out, two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence.
The most recent data on the matter shows that Officer-Involved Domestic Violence or OIDV, is a major problem.
Individuals who are the victims of domestic violence at the hands of police officer-batterers are often in a unique and particularly vulnerable situation. Unlike most victims of domestic violence, where the success of protective efforts depends on the cooperation of law enforcement, those subject to officer-involved domestic violence (OIDV) may, for a variety of reasons, be unable to secure the assistance they seek. This is particularly troublesome in light of increased rates of domestic violence in police officer families.
Even more startling than the fact that 40% of police officer families experiencing domestic violence is the fact that this number is likely far higher as it is estimated that much of it goes unreported.
According to Leigh Goodmark, author of Hands Up at Home: Militarized Masculinity and Police Officers Who Commit Intimate Partner,
The data on intimate partner abuse by police officers are both dated and potentially flawed, but in ways that make it more likely that abuse is being under—rather than over—reported. Most of the studies rely on self-reporting by police officers to establish prevalence of abuse. Self-reporting is a notoriously unreliable measure; as one study noted, ‘The issue of the reliability of self-reports data is problematic when considering any socially undesirable behavior.’
A shocking report out of New Orleans, Louisiana sheds light on this issue and illustrates just how big of a problem it actually is. As the Appeal reports:
Between 2014 and 2020, a complaint of sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence, or harassment was made against New Orleans police officers about every 10 days, according to a report published late last year by the Umbrella Coalition, a coalition of 13 local and national nonprofit and civil rights organizations. According to the report, nearly 190 of New Orleans’ police officers had complaints of this nature filed against them with the department’s public integrity unit. But, in that time, the department sustained only three percent of complaints involving sexual or intimate partner violence, according to a spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Department.
The Umbrella Coalition found that, among other claims, officers were accused of watching pornography at work, sexually assaulting arrestees, stalking former partners, sexually harassing a restaurant server while drinking alcohol on duty, posting revenge porn of a woman, threatening a former partner with a gun, sexually harassing fellow employees, beating a child, punching a woman in the jaw, and numerous other allegations of domestic battery and rape, including one incident in which an officer allegedly sexually assaulted someone while another officer watched. The department currently employs about 950 officers, but that number fluctuated during the years the Umbrella Coalition studied, and at least 500 officers who worked for NOPD during those years have since resigned or retired.
“You can’t give people that degree of control of people’s bodily autonomy and expect to curtail it with reform and training. This is what you’re signing up for when you pay for cops,” a researcher with the Umbrella Coalition told the Appeal.
This report is now being used in the civil case brought against the NOPD in which disgraced officer Rodney Vicknair raped a 14-year-old child.
In 2020, the New Orleans Police department arrested Vicknair, 55, and charged him with sexual battery, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and malfeasance for sexually assaulting the child while investigating a sexual assault that she reported. After fighting the case for two years and pleading not guilty in November, Vicknair changed his tune.
Vicknair admitted to grooming and raping the girl while taking her to the hospital to have a rape kit done for a previous sexual assault she had just endured.
The mother of the victim discovered that the NOPD kept Vicknair on the force despite myriad complaints against him prior to raping her 14-year-old. According to the Appeal, last month, a federal judge allowed the girl’s mother to use the findings from the Umbrella Coalition’s report to allege that the city of New Orleans has a pattern and practice of failing to take officer misconduct seriously.
Article posted with permission from Matt Agorist
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