Most think of police and envision characters from an action movie, blasting away in gun battles and car chases. Some others think of police handing out traffic tickets, ambushing citizens on the highways, or responding to a traffic accident. Nevertheless, no matter the depiction, the consistent theme is “trouble.” However, so many seldomly think of the aid to citizens on highways, welfare checks, responses to home invasions and burglaries, murders, and domestic violence calls police so often must manage. A case and point are police escorts, a victim service offered by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, or LVMPD. LVMP says: “It is the mission of the Victim Services Detail to help victims of crime by providing crisis intervention, support, referrals, and encouraging safety practices to reduce the likelihood of future victimization.” There is a wide range of services including but not limited to stalking, domestic violence, harassment, emergency shelter, and police escorts, just to name a few.
We witnessed the stellar work of LVMPD, in particular, Officer John Woosnam and Officer Dean Vietmeier on just such a call. Responding to a police escort request, the officers were remarkable. Outstanding really. Almost casually Officer Woosnam and Officer Vietmeier were friendly to both the requestor of the escort and the property owner affected. They de-escalated a potentially volatile situation with kindness, candor, and cool that turned a “victim service” domestic event, into a brief and smoothly executed property evacuation. Let there be no mistake it takes education, skill, and talent to manage a situation of this kind. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department should be proud of officers of this caliber. Officer Woosnam and Officer Vietmeier are examples of the right way to handle a domestic call.
What is Domestic Violence
Domestic violence generally is defined as a violent crime committed in the context of an intimate relationship. However, domestic violence is no longer just a family matter. It is a crime involving the use of power, coercion, and violence to control another. This crime is recognized by Nevada state law and prosecutable by law enforcement.
Domestic violence is different from other random crimes because a perpetrator and victim are not strangers. Instead, they are intimate partners, family members, or parents of common children. This relationship, therefore, binds a victim to his or her perpetrator. For example, the victim may rely on the perpetrator for economic support or child support. Ongoing domestic violence is characterized by a pattern of escalating abuse in which one partner in the relationship controls the other through force, deprivation, and/or the threat of deprivation or violence.
Furthermore, abuse comes in many forms. For example:
Spousal Abuse: This type of abuse generally occurs between a husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend, or same-sex couple. The dominant partner may choose to exert his power by any means including physical, emotional, verbal, spiritual, financial, homophobic-based, immigration-based, or threats of destructive acts.
Rape / Sexual Assault: This type of abuse typically occurs between a husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend, or same-sex couple. The abuse is characterized by forced or pressured sexual acts, including rape.
Child Abuse: This type of abuse is typically perpetrated on a child by a parent, grandparent, step-parent, or significant other of a parent. It can include physical, emotional, and verbal assaults against a child.
Elderly Abuse: This type of abuse is typically perpetrated on senior citizens by their children, grandchildren, or others living with or caring for the victim. The abuse ranges from physical, emotional, and verbal abuse to financial and destructive threats.
Stalking / Cyber Stalking: Stalking is a crime of harassment in which a victim is fearful for his or her own safety or life. Cyber-stalking is a new phenomenon in stalking in which abusers can discover a victim’s Internet activities by gaining access to the victim’s e-mail account. The stalker can read the victim’s incoming and outgoing mail and send threatening or harassing e-mail messages to the victim.
From the LVMPD:
Have you been slapped, strangled, hit, stabbed, shot, verbally abused, sexually abused, threatened with a deadly weapon, harassed, stalked, or suffered any other form of physical violence by an intimate partner, a family member, in-law, boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate or acquaintance? There is help if you believe you are a victim of domestic violence! If you need to speak with a victim advocate, please call (702) 828-2955, Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A Protection Order is an important part of a safety plan, but it also is important that you take other steps to remain safe.
- Keep a bag packed and include your important papers. If you have to leave quickly, it will be ready.
- Keep a written log of any contact, harassment or abuse, including date and time of the incidents and witnesses. This information will be helpful if you file a police report.
- Save answering machine tapes, caller ID records, or call traces. They can be used to substantiate your complaint.
- Let neighbors, co-workers, and friends know what is going on so they can keep an eye on you.
- Don’t be embarrassed! Keeping the adverse party’s behavior a secret could be dangerous for others as well as yourself.
- Keep a copy of your protection order at all the places listed. Give a copy to friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.
- Once the adverse party is out of the residence, change the locks!
- Keep the exterior of you home well-lit and trim any shrubs.
- Change your daily habits. Take new routes to work, try a new supermarket. Don’t make it easy to be followed.
- DO NOT meet with the adverse party, even if that person promises to return belongings or to resolve differences.
- Always ask for a police escort to retrieve belongings or return property.
- If you can’t avoid an attack, try to stay out or get out of the kitchen, bathroom, garage, or any place where there are sharp or heavy objects that can be used as weapons.
Know the resources in your community for emergency shelter, information, and support. Keep phone numbers on a small card that you can carry with you at all times.
Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “Domestic Violence.” LVMPD Home, www.lvmpd.com/en-us/Pages/DomesticViolence.aspx.