Thursday, October 17, 2013
Domestic violence laws are in place to attempt to keep domestic violence victims safe.
Goose Creek Police Department Sgt. William Ramirez has seen his share of domestic violence arrests in his 11 years in Goose Creek.
“Any kind of disturbance always has two officers,” Ramirez said, adding that domestic violence calls and traffic stops are the two situations most dangerous for officers.
Assessing the situation is the first responsibility, he said. Then, officers make contact with somebody at the house and separate those involved. It is usually two people, but sometimes more.
“We look at the interior of the house for broken glass, tables knocked over - signs of a struggle,” Ramirez said. “A lot of times we’re called as a preventive measure. We like to get there before anything gets physical.
“We talk to them separately. Officers share information. They give us pieces to the puzzle. It’s a matter of us putting it together.”
Arrests are made if someone poses a threat of imminent peril.
“The threat of physical harm falls under domestic violence,” Ramirez said. “If someone says they are going to go the kitchen to get a knife (they are arrested).
“We look for witnesses - sometimes in the household, including children.
“Who initiated it? Some cases are cut and dry, but most are not. I’ve had numerous cases where we take both of them to jail.”
If there are freshly inflicted scratches, bleeding, or other evidence of harm, state law says an arrest must be made.
A victim’s rights form can be filled out by any victim of a crime. The form has all the information on the suspect taken into custody and lets victims know of the judicial proceedings.
An order of protection is easily enforceable, GCPD Victim Advocate Levolia Rhodes said. “If someone shows up, they get arrested.”
If law enforcement officers are called to a domestic violence situation they will determine the primary aggressor, which is not always the man - but about 90 percent of the time it is, Rhodes said.
“If officers see any manifestation of injury, the law says they will make an arrest,” Rhodes said. “Injuries (from choking, grabbing, squeezing) may not show up for 24 hours.”
Rhodes encourages all victims to attend bond hearings set for the suspect. This often has an impact on the bond amount.
Showing up allows a judge to see if a victim has physical injuries or if they are scared of the suspect. If a victim wishes to have charges dropped they can request the judge to do so.
In situations where the victim cannot attend a bond hearing the victim can prepare a statement for the judge that Rhodes reads in court.