“The common theme is that all of our careers are affected, while most of the men didn’t suffer any career repercussions. If even a cop couldn’t get a fair hearing from her own department, what hope did a civilian woman have?Some got promoted,” one of the women officers told me. It seemed incredible that a crime wave of such magnitude and far-reaching social ramifications could be so unknown to the public and yet at the same time an open secret in a mostly indifferent law enforcement community.She must take on the infamous blue wall of silence—the strict unwritten code of cops protecting each other in investigations.The police have a name for it—extending “professional courtesy.” In the words of Anthony Bouza, a one-time commander in the New York Police Department and former police chief of Minneapolis, “The Mafia never enforced its code of blood-sworn omerta with the ferocity, efficacy and enthusiasm the police bring to the Blue Code of Silence.” Police departments often try to steer complaints into closed-door disciplinary hearings instead of the criminal proceedings that civilians would face.Shelters, many of them chronically underfunded, regularly turn away abused women because they’re full, while only about one in four incidents in the wider population ever get reported to police. But abuse at home is far worse for the wife or girlfriend of a cop. What if a coworker or friend of her husband responds? Her abuser may have training and tools to track her web use, phone calls and travels to find out if she is researching how to get help or, if she has fled, where she went.
They were ostracized and faced career blowback for complaining.
The internal hearings usually result in no more than a token slap on the wrist for the officer.
Despite the high number of abusive officers, charges are laid in only a tiny number of cases—often, it seems, only those too extreme to ignore. He is usually at ease with courtroom procedures and testifying on the stand.
Intrigued, I called around to women’s shelters, experts on domestic violence, counsellors, police departments, ex-cops, criminologists.
It took only a few conversations to see my friend had stumbled on a massive problem.
Domestic violence takes place in up to a staggering 40 percent of law enforcement families, but police departments mostly ignore the problem or let it slide, write ex-police wife Susanna Hope and award-winning investigative journalist Alex Roslin in their new book Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence.