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NYPD orders cops to run criminal checks on domestic violence victims

NYPD logoWhat the actual fuck? The NY Post reports:

Women who report domestic violence are exposing themselves to arrest under a new NYPD directive that orders cops to run criminal checks on the accused and the accuser, The Post has learned.

The memo by Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski requires detectives to look at open warrants, complaint histories and even the driving records of both parties.

“You have no choice but to lock them up” if the victims turn out to have warrants, including for minor offenses like unpaid tickets, a police source said.

“This is going to deter victims of domestic violence . . . They’re going to be scared to come forward.”

This has gotta be, like, domestic violence policy 101, right? Anyone with any common sense can predict that this policy is likely to have a huge chilling effect. “The majority of domestic-violence cases go unreported,” explained defense attorney Joseph Tacopina. “This is just going to increase this percentage.”

The NYPD released a statement clarifying that there is no “must arrest” policy that applies to domestic violence victims. So while officers are required to do checks, they don’t have to arrest people. I’m sure this will be totally reassuring to someone who is weighing whether to risk arrest or deportation by turning to the police for protection.

The NYPD should be ashamed.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/decius/ Dan

    Are we instead requiring police to identify which party is the victim and which the abuser without performing a background check?

  • http://feministing.com/members/andejoh/ John

    I agree that background checks shouldn’t be run on the complainants because I think overall it’s a waste of resources. I’d like to see how many arrests that would lead to as opposed to resources used. Otherwise, I take issue with several points in the article.

    “Marilyn Chinitz, a matrimonial lawyer who often represents abused women, said the policy harms those police should be protecting.

    “You’re arresting the victim?” Chinitz said. “That is crazy.””

    No, you’re arresting a criminal, who happens to be a victim in this case, but could very well be a perpetrator in another.

    “Joseph Tacopina, a defense attorney and former prosecutor, said the new policy will have a “massive chilling effect” on domestic-violence victims, particularly women reluctant to call cops on their partners.”

    Granted men deserve protection from domestic abuse too, but if men commit more crimes, conceivably they’d have more warrants so how would this disproportionally impact women?

    I understand the thinking is overlook a minor crime to prevent something major, but that assumes that the warrant is for a crime that’s not as bad as what the complainant is alleging. Why would you let a child molester free because you don’t want to scare them away from charging someone with domestic violence? Doesn’t it make sense from the standpoint of catching the bigger fish to allow police the discretion to arrest or not. If there is no requirement to arrest, shouldn’t that be sufficient?

  • http://feministing.com/members/tkoed/ tkoed

    PLEASE sign & SHARE my petition to reverse the NYPD directive to run criminal checks on victims of domestic violence: http://t.co/vcpuj5z3gt

  • http://feministing.com/members/tbr00ks/ Tomos Brooks

    What on earth do they think they are going to accomplish with this? Does this exist in any other states? It is pretty shameful and disgusting.