Cop Talk Q & A: Domestic Violence and Mandatory Arrest Laws

In November 2011, Mark called into the Shrink4Men Radio program and was challenged by Denis, one of the listeners in the chat room and a regular here on the Shrink4Men website. The dialogue that began on the radio program continued here. The following post is a compilation of Mark’s responses to Denis’ questions and assertions. I asked Denis if he would like to respond in article format. Instead, he has opted to respond via comments. — Dr T.

Denis (11/08/2011 at 9:46 am): I’m looking forward to an article from you on your DV training, dominant aggressor profiling and mandatory arrests. Anecdotal evidence that you have arrested women in the past does not discount the reality of your anti-male training and procedures and resulting disparity in arrest statistics. I’m also curious how you can look yourself in the mirror each morning and tell yourself that you’re just doing your job.

DV training is based on the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 (IDVA).

Department policy mirrors the IDVA. We must investigate and document even if no arrest is made. Arrest is mandatory under certain conditions. Victim assistance is mandatory. Emergency order of protection, if needed, is mandatory.

In 1990 or 1991, the law changed to mandatory arrest. Prior to that, it was must investigate and document, but arrest without a signed complaint was almost nonexistent. This was good and bad.

Good in that police could arrest for the really obvious stuff without the signed complaint. Bad in that the courts added, “bond to be set by a judge” to the mandatory arrest part. Doing this ended police discretion in making an arrest. It also began the time of suckage.

The court and state’s attorney (SA) backed off on the arrest part because, without discretion, police were arresting the wrong people for the wrong reason, all too often. Now we screen the cases with the SA and quite often the arrest results in no charges. You might not go home for the night, but you ain’t going to jail.

How can I look at myself in the mirror? I look at myself in the mirror, grab a fresh razor and engage in the hated chore of shaving.

As for doing my job, I have two options as a police officer in resolving disputes. I can counsel or I can arrest. That is it.

As long as I have probable cause to arrest, I can rarely get in trouble for making an arrest. Arrest is, in the case of domestic violence situations, the least desirable, most dangerous and time consuming option. Making an arrest also punts the problem to the courts.

In my opinion, IDVA took away discretion in too many cases. The SA’s office will charge when in doubt, almost always. They don’t want to get trick bagged by not charging and neither do most cops. It is a CYA (cover your ass) thing. I’m not saying it is right or good . . . it just is.

Disparity in arrest results? The following is only my informed opinion. Men are conditioned from an early age to protect women. It seems to be a hard wired response and that is rooted in religion and culture, especially in the western world.

Men also tend to land punches more accurately and hit harder, which leaves visible marks. So a woman hitting a man is blown off (by the victim male) and, without visible injury, it is tough to make an arrest. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but with an uncooperative or unwilling victim, no visible injury and cultural bias engaged in by all parties present, things get screwed up.

DV training has gotten a bit better. There seems to be less emphasis on man hating and more on uniform procedures and arresting the true offending party. I won’t start to try to explain the procedure for sex assaults. That’s a whole other article. And yep, you guessed it,  more suckage.

In the following weeks, I will publish more Q & A from Mark. Thank you, Denis, for raising such important questions and thank you, Mark, for responding to them.

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  1. B Experienced says

    Hi Mark,

    I would like to ask you a couple of questions.

    Has it been your experience as an officer that more people are killed or harmed by getting a restraining order than not when they are being stalked? I have read some of Dr. Park Dietz’ s work on stalking and he says that if you want to increase the stalking activity then send the police around to talk to them. I agree with him that restraining orders only work with people who want to follow them. However, I am ambivalent about the first bit of advice because it may work against you in a court of law. Ex-You must not have been that afraid because you didn’t get a restraining order-etc. I myself would want to devise a plan to catch them sooner because I wouldn’t want to extend the torture. Therefore, do the police devise plans such as this?

    How many times do you have problems with the same person stalking someone? In other words are you aware of serial stalkers where nothing much is really done with them?

  2. Mark says


    “Has it been your experience as an officer that more people are killed or harmed by getting a restraining order than not when they are being stalked?”

    Killed I can’t answer from my own experience. Harmed, usually not. Harassed about 50 / 50. Some parties take a restraining order (or Police intervention) issued against them as a challenge and come up with creative ways to continue stalking behavior. I always ask if people want me to call or contact their harasser and explain that it could get worse. The benefit of a restraining order is the ability of police or courts to arrest or sanction the party harassing or stalking, often times without direct involvement (signed complaint) of the victim.

    “However, I am ambivalent about the first bit of advice because it may work against you in a court of law. Ex-You must not have been that afraid because you didn’t get a restraining order-etc. I myself would want to devise a plan to catch them sooner because I wouldn’t want to extend the torture. Therefore, do the police devise plans such as this?”

    I’m a bit unclear on what you are asking. Police have to provide help or access to resources if someone asks. In fact there is a form in the DV packet we use that specifically asks if someone needs help. We have them sign indicating help is available and if they accept or need help. Most decline.

    As far as plans to catch people I have to have a cooperative victim that WANTS Police to do something. No entrapment but reporting, in a timely manner, that some violation or crime has occurred and follow through with Police and courts.

    Stalkers or harassers (in my experience) tend to move on after the victim stops getting wound up over it or an arrest or intervention is made. They move on to the next victim. I have encountered people with multiple restraining orders against different people. Both male and female. Most I’ve ever seen on one person was four…female in this case.

    Doing anything with stalkers requires a cooperative victim that reports in a timely manner. All to often, by the time Police get involved, we are behind the curve and much of what is being reported is not actionable.

    • B Experienced says

      Thanks for the response. The part that you didn’t get was partly answered in your response. You had stated that the police tell people that there is a chance of it getting worse and then you let them decide; which I believe is good. What I think that you didn’t get was that if you believe that it will increase the stalking or potential for you or someone you know to be harmed and decline on getting a restraining order, would the stalker’s lawyer have a good defense and persuasive argument by saying something like the victim couldn’t have been that afraid if they didn’t get a restraining order in court?

      • Mark says

        The victim being a victim, and not getting a restraining order, is not a defense for the stalker. Lack of a restraining order does not permit one to commit crime. The stalker is gonna stalk no matter what the court says. The methods they use will change, sometimes, with a court order in place not the behavior.

        A lawyer can try to use such logic but any sane, reasonably competent attorney can and should object to it. Loudly and often.

        Kind of like saying the Police are at fault for a clients DUI. “I did not pour alcohol down your clients throat, counsel. He did that all by himself and is remarkably proficient at it.”

  3. Ken says

    RE Restraining orders

    How often are these abused? Here’s an example I’m aware of in my neighborhood:

    A neighbor (call her “Retaliator”) that has gotten at least four against guys that have offended her for various reasons; to our (everybody knows as she’s a bit of a blabbermouth) understanding no guy as ever really threatened her with any violence.

    The latest (I’m aware of, so far) involved a situation in which another neighbor friend (a guy, call him “Letch”) was leering at another neighbor’s girlfriend…she complained, reasonably (Letch does this sort of thing so this is in keeping with his character), to her boyfriend who, unreasonably, threatened to come right back with his gun if “Letch” didn’t leave immediately. Letch was in Retaliator’s driveway. Boyfriend’s father, a police officer came out & addressed the situation & tried to defuse it; his son (Boyfriend) never came back out, nor did girlfriend. Letch by this time had pulled his gun from the glovebox & placed it on the passenger seat & was waiting, with the vehicle door open for whatever came next (this, by the way, set him up under Virginia’s laws for a major adverse criminal arrest, etc. had things escalated per boyfriend’s implied/stated threat). He & his vehicle was in Retaliator’s driveway. The police officer (off-duty) never left the physical street, venturing only as far as the curb. Thru-out all this Retaliator was inside & missed everything.

    In response to & after the above situation, Letch & Retaliator went to Letch’s house (a short walk away), had a few drinks, and came up with the idea of getting a restraining order on the police officer and his son.

    That is the story as relayed entirely by Letch, and Retaliator, at a neighborhood block party after drinking a bit too much.

    Curiously, it was Retaliator that obtained the restraining order…and she, by her admission in the party, was not present for the events at issue.

    SO, there’s a case where a woman has been using restraining orders against people, always guys, that have offended her — and I say “offended” with care as, again, I’m unaware of any true threats of violence or harrassment, and again, based on her own statements. What she’s found offensive with the police officer’s son, again by her admission, is that he plays basketball late–and the sound of the dribbling (bouncing ball), not discussion, etc. that normally goes with a game, annoys her. So they concocted this scheme to get even.

    All the other Restraining Orders I’ve heard of were by Retaliator by herself…in this case she colluded with Letch.

    In other words, she’s using the “system” to concoct a series of slanderous precedents against a number of guys. Is that common? And, what are the risks if/when she’s found out?

    Also, how common is it for a woman to have a guy as a collaborator in such?

  4. Mark says


    You should broker a deal with Jerry Springer to have them on the show. Be careful about taking “Letch” at his word on this. Probably being less than truthful or adjusting his story to fit the facts or vice versa. Any idiot that would introduce a firearm into this, especially when one of the involved parties is the Police is just plain stupid. If drinking or intoxicated call it epic stupid.

    Q: How often are these (orders) abused?

    If given to high conflict persons often. Imagine you are in charge of giving out orders and this woman comes into the office. The headache is instantaneous. Path of least resistance is to just get the order issued. Not saying it is right or a good plan it does happen.

    Q: In other words, she’s using the “system” to concoct a series of slanderous precedents against a number of guys. Is that common? And, what are the risks if/when she’s found out?

    Restraining orders are not hard to get nor are they just given away without some effort on the part of those seeking them. Most people are VERY reluctant to go get an order in the first place. Just because a restraining order is issued against you means little overall, if you don’t violate it. I have had a few occasions where the male party is served with the initial (In IL at least)two week order and went to the scheduled hearing. The order was dismissed with prejudice. This is a GOOD thing as if she comes back for another go at an order, she will have a very hard time getting another one.

    The risk of the person obtaining an order being punished is, unfortunately low. You can’t violate your own order. Some of this is deliberate on the part of the petitioner (one seeking or obtaining the order) in attempts to get the respondent (object of the order) trick bagged, usually by inviting the petitioner over for scorching sex and calling the Police when she gets hers. Police are forced to remove him and perhaps arrest him. Yes, I know, it is messed up and Police make these arrests only when forced to. Comes back to breaking all contact and timely documentation if these circumstances arrive.

    Q: Also, how common is it for a woman to have a guy as a collaborator in such?

    Very. Look at Dr. Phil and Oprah.

  5. ItzaSekret says

    Often wondered, during one of my ex’s 2AM-3AM shouting tirades, what she might say to the PD if my neighbors eventually called it in. In the mornings, I would try to counsel her that a PD visit in the wee hours would not bode well for her lawyering job. Probably would not have played out well for me either. My advice had little effect, tho often her indignation & rage, and my lack of response, would lead her to pack her things and go. Luckily, if not happily.

  6. newwife says

    My husbands ex has recently claimed abuse now that he filed for a modification after she tried to hide the child at her parents new residence and not giving up there address and her parents cut off contact with my husband(She was deployed to Afghanistan). Her father is a retired police officer, by the way– I can imagine he was a great cop..

    He was granted full custody until she returned and he was ordered back to my husbands care. To protect himself, he requests all exchanges be done inside the lobby of a police station now that shes home. She is fighting hard against this. She wants to come to our home. Seems odd for a woman who in multiple motions has “fears for her life” around him. Christmas day she showed up at our door unannounced. We were terrified some false call to the police would follow. I’m starting to think shes waiting until his guard is down to stir the pot.

    She offers more parenting time in exchange for allowing her to come by our home. She has no idea its being video taped. I just find it odd he will have to go in front of a judge next week to ask to have the “abused” ordered away from the “abuser”.

    $25,000 later, motion after motion of abuse claims, and a phone call to find out how to file for a restraining order against her in this situation, and the cops have no advice. I’m disgusted by the double standard. We are being harassed (My name has been brought into these motions as well for being “hostile” towards her, even though I’m disgustingly nice to her) and fearful in our own home. We have other children and are afraid one phone call to the police who buy into her dramatic crap will result in the loss of our mutual child, and loss of custody of my two children from a previous marriage, loss of his job, jail time etc. This is the most terrifying experience of our life..

    • Mellaril says

      If you have anything you can prove like an arrest, a restraining order, failure to comply with a court order, etc., you write a letter to her command with a copy to the Army Inspector Genneral and inform them that you have information that bears on the woman’s trustworthiness and reliability to access classified informaiton. If she’s failing to report certain things, she may be subject to disciplinary action for failure to report things and they could yank her security clearance. In the letter ask to be informed in writing how the complaint was dispositioned. It may likely come back “appropriate disciplinary action was taken” to protect her privacy but you have the Army on notice. If she continues, you do it again and cc your Congressman. Military commanders hate calls from Congressional Staffers.

  7. Mark says


    Mellaril nailed it. Letter to her command and cc’ed to your attorney, her attorney, etc. will help a great deal.

    A “No trespass letter” to his ex (maybe add that to the letter to her command) notifying her to stay off your property, filed with the local Police couldn’t hurt either.

    As far as being harassed, what you are describing is a civil problem. She is probably adept at skating the fine line between actually being disorderly and high level annoying. Civil problem. Police advice usually consists of ,”get an attorney and go to (civil / family) court”. If this person does commit a crime or disorderly conduct offense and you or your husband will sign a complaint then the Police can do something.

    Have his attorney look into no contact orders as they might apply to the state you live in. Good luck sounds as if you have a real stinker on your hands.

    • newwife says

      Mark, you’re absolutely right. Always skating a fine line. I went through this with her mother when she would text us at 6AM in the morning right after our son was born. I repeatedly told them not to text my personal phone. Being across state lines made it impossible to do anything about. She even sent a text asking if the “police laughed at me” when i told her i would go to the police for harassment.

      Now, the games continue.. In person.. Monday he goes in front of the judge. Hopefully he can court order something so we can have her for contempt if she continues.

      I will pass on the info about his command.

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