When the Abuser is One of Our Own: Law Enforcement Responses to Officers as Offenders of Violence Against Women
Recent, reliable sources that document domestic violence by law enforcement professionals are difficult to locate. A 1991 survey by Leonore Johnson claims that 40 percent of officers commit a form of abuse in the home and that two in five officers who respond to domestic disturbance calls are abusers themselves (source: Alex Rosin). These are startling claims that require further investigation to better understand their context. Even more alarming is that in the past, domestic violence committed by law enforcement officers was largely unreported or underreported, and when a complaint was filed, police departments often did not take appropriate action. Dr. Stephany Powell, a retired LAPD Vice Sergeant with 30 years on the force, provides both history and clarification of these statistics, as well as the response of law enforcement to criminal behavior among police officers. Dr. Powell, now an educator and trainer of law enforcement officers in her role as the Director of Law Enforcement Training and Survivor Services at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, explores the history of police recruiting and training, the so-called code of silence within the police force, the impact of PTSD and addiction on police officers, and just how far we’ve come from the days when domestic violence, sexual assault and the objectification of women were acceptable behaviors from those sworn to protect and serve. Included in this episode is a poignant quote from keynote speaker of the 2022 Conference on Crimes Against Women, Mark Wynn, a retired Lieutenant Detective of the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department, as referenced in Alex Rosin’s 2017 book Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence.