Domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes and according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and about 830,000 men are victims of domestic violence a year. In New York, those unreported cases of domestic violence may get higher. In a March 5th memo obtained by the New York Post, a new directive has been established for the NYPD. In addition to running criminal checks on the accused, cops will now run criminal checks on the accuser.
Detectives are now required to look at open warrants, complaint histories and even the driving records of both parties.
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.
“That is very, very frightening. It would absolutely dissuade people. They would not report a crime because they would fear getting locked up.
“It would empower the perpetrator, and there’s going to be more domestic violence as a consequence, and you’re endangering children,” Chinitz said, noting that kids often live in households where one parent is being abused.
In response to The Post‘s story, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne released this statement about the story: “While it is standard practice and policy for detectives to investigate victims’ backgrounds to help lead them to the victims’ assailants, the NYPD – contrary to a published report – has no “must arrest” policy that applies to domestic violence victims. In fact, the discovery of open warrants on domestic violence victims often results in their warrants being vacated.”
Even though the NYPD disputes the “must arrest” policy that was in the memo, this could still deter domestic violence victims from reporting abuse to the police. With the police force already under constant scrutiny, will city residents believe the response from the spokesman? Probably not.