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New Bill Would Require Police to Witness Violence Firsthand Before Making Arrest

New Bill Would Require Police to Witness Violence Firsthand Before Making Arrest

I have a confession.

While I am very interested in women’s rights issues and keep abreast of and write about many issues that affect women around the world, I am also an avid reality TV viewer.

Bravo is my go-to network, especially The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills. If you are familiar with the show, one of the story lines I followed closely this season was the demise of Taylor Armstrong’s abusive marriage. Her husband, Russell Armstrong, committed suicide before the season aired, and while many were shocked that Bravo continued with the season, I thought it was a unique opportunity to educate others on the signs and dangers of domestic abuse.

When I recently read of a bill being pushed through the New Hampshire legislator regarding domestic violence I immediately thought of Armstrong and women around the nation that suffer at the hands of their abusers.

The bill, House Bill 1581, would require police to witness domestic violence firsthand before being permitted to make an arrest.

That means that if a police officer came to a home and witnessed firsthand clear signs that abuse had occurred prior to their arrival for example the face of the victim is bruised or bleeding he or she could not make an arrest until a warrant was issued. The officer must leave the scene of the crime to obtain a warrant thus putting the victim in greater danger as the attacker might want to punish them for calling for help in the first place.

As the law stands an arrest can be made when police observe evidence of abuse. Evidence such as a bruised or bleeding face or overturned furniture could merit an arrest which would separate the victim from their attacker.

Requiring police to witness abuse firsthand is incredibly dangerous, and completely unrealistic. As Taylor Armstrong’s story shows us, domestic violence is a very secretive business. Abusers do not normally attack their partners in front of other people, especially police, and if women call for help they should not be left alone with their attacker after police have visited the home.

New Hampshire has been a leader in protecting its citizens from domestic violence for many years. This bill would set all those efforts back and endanger the lives of thousands of women.

What do you think? It is reasonable to require police to witness domestic violence firsthand in order to make an arrest?


Related from Care2:

Reclaiming The Cause: When Your Abuser Claims to Be a Feminist

Domestic Violence: It’s Closer Than You Think

Topeka May Make Domestic Violence Legal to Save Money


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Photo credit: Prashanthns, via wikimedia commons

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11:43PM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

Let's kick those Republicans out of the house!

10:16PM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

USE your VOICE or LOSE your VOICE so your (children)DAUGHTER'S have a VOICE and FREEDOM of CHOICE!

If I were a POLICE OFFICER I would be very upset about this NEW law since POLICE OFFICER'S have a GREATER chance of being the VICTIM in a DOMESTIC VIOLENCE case then in any other CRIME I think. It puts the OFFICER right in the MIDDLE of the DISPUTE. Big MISTAKE it will put the OFFICER right in the LINE of FIRE!

It sound's like their trying to make a DEAL with the DEVIL! Almost like a WARNING or a SECOND chance saying look since I didn't see you give your WIFE that BLACK EYE and she now claims she fell I'll let it go this time next time I won't. The BATTERED WOMEN has to FEEL INTIMIDATED and SCARED half to DEATH.

4:31PM PST on Feb 24, 2012

Miriam W asks a good question: "so if I am mugged and beaten by a total stranger a cop doesn't have to witness it but if a husband/boyfriend does a cop has to be right there?"

My guess is that, if you were to go to the police and accuse a total stranger of beating you, and there were no witnesses, the police would NOT arrest the total stranger. In other words, this legislation would only take away from women the right to have men arrested on her simple say so.

That's just my guess.

11:23AM PST on Feb 23, 2012

is this just for domestic abuse or any form of assault?
so if I am mugged and beaten by a total stranger a cop doesn't have to witness it but if a husband/boyfriend does a cop has to be right there? are you serious? how many people commit crimes right in front of police officers?

9:04AM PST on Feb 20, 2012

It wasn't long ago when a man could beat and rape his wife at will and nothing would happen to him. I bet the repukes want to go back to those "good, old days" agan!

6:09AM PST on Feb 20, 2012


4:39AM PST on Feb 20, 2012

Sickening!!!! This is a very dangerous bill

4:07AM PST on Feb 20, 2012

This is one of the biggest cases of STUPIDITY I have ever seen...My husband would say nothing was wrong, it was misunderstanding and then the police would leave when they didn't see any bruises..But I knew what going to happen after they left and it did....Oh ya it had to be men that made this bill...Still protecting each other....

5:13PM PST on Feb 12, 2012

Is this a new Republican ruse to keep women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen with no escape from a man's abuse? The power thing with them goes on and on and on. It isn't enough they want all the money in the world, they want to be kings and dictate life or death or poverty to people!!!!!

7:39PM PST on Feb 5, 2012

What the hell?

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