Print

Training >> Browse Articles >> Patrol

+12

Domestic Disturbance Response: 10 Tips for Winning at these Volatile Calls

Around ten years ago, as a patrol division deputy sheriff with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I walked up some porch stairs to knock on the door of a mobile home. Suddenly, I was tackled on the front porch by a 175-pound sheet rock hanger who was annoyed that I responded to the repeat domestic violence 911 calls to dispatchers that came in while we were en route.

After what turned out to be an at least eight minute struggle (according to dispatch logs) on this drunk and drugged man’s front porch, two other deputies (luckily they were there) and I were able to secure him.

He went to jail, after being treated in the emergency room, and we were able to go home the next morning. As a deputy on my shift remarked after the dust settled: “You know, we go to these domestics all the time here and we forget what can go wrong and how dangerous they can be. Your call was a real wake up call for the rest of us.”

That deputy sheriff was right.

All readers of this column should know that responding to domestic disturbance calls are dangerous. This Weinblatt’s Tip will hopefully serve as a reminder of some of the right things to do so that you can go home at the end of the shift.

1. Have backup. If your department’s policies and manpower allocation allow it, make sure that you respond to domestics with at least one other officer or deputy. This is vital for officer safety.

2. Get information. Query your dispatch or call taking communications center with whatever information they could glean from the caller or callers. The information on weapons, number of subjects involved, prior subject and location history, any active warrants, description of vehicles leaving, etc. could make a huge difference for you upon arrival in the area.

3. Park wisely. Position your patrol car away from the response location and try to refrain from passing it during your attempt to locate. To illustrate the point: the old patrol building of the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department was named after Deputy Leo Gurule. He was shot in his car when he pulled in front of a mobile home responding to a domestic.

4. Scan the area. Don’t rush into a situation. A dead hero is not going to help anyone. Take time to scan the area. Observe with your eyes and your ears to figure out what you may be walking into before it runs into you.

5. Position yourselves. Be sure not to bunch up at the door and give someone a clear shot at a couple officers near each other. Put additional officers away from the primary officer with adequate use of cover.

6. Establish presence and control. In defensive tactics, the operative word is control. You want to establish your presence in a home quickly and control all persons within that residence.

7. ID people and weapons. Make sure that you quickly identify the people present. The cover officer can discreetly radio in information for a quick warrant check while the contact officer determines the presence and location of any weapons.

8. Separate parties. The big advantage of multiple law enforcer response is the ability to separate the parties involved to cool them off and get non-contaminated renditions of what transpired. In the vein of good officer positioning, be sure that they can’t see each other, but that you can see your partner over the person’s shoulder.

9. Document. I can’t stress this enough…document, document, and document. Be sure that you note down all pertinent information in your report’s narrative. Many agencies have a tendency to skimp in their reports and that shortchanges the officers later when legal proceedings (whether criminal or civil) crop up. Be sure that you use additional means of documentation, such as your in-car camera, photos, and written voluntary statements, to back up your observations noted in your narrative.

10. Fight complacency. Much as the deputy sheriff in Santa Fe County said, don’t forget how unpredictable domestic disturbance calls can be. Resist the temptation to be complacent.

Domestics are unpredictable and deserve the reputation for being fraught with danger for the patrol officer. The use of good judgment and officer safety should hopefully minimize your chances of having to fight for eight very long minutes.


+12
  • Iphone_pics_52809_061_max50

    MitchN60

    over 3 years ago

    14 Comments

    I'm not a LEO, but I do work armed security in a city housing complex. Wanted to say that this is excellent advice and also to add that it's not always the male party, which I'm sure you all know. I've gone to several calls where the female turned out to be most at fault for the domestic.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    patrickthurston

    about 7 years ago

    4 Comments

    Excellent advice!!! My first week on the police department I was dispatched to a Sunday Morning domestic with my FTO. It was the worst domestic I've ever experienced since I started my career. Upon our arrival a hispanic lady was laying in a pool of blood begging for us to arrest her husband. He literally almost killed her from beating her about her face. What made it worse was her children witnessed the entire thing and were traumatized. This is a great article for all law enforcement professionals.

  • In_the_woods_max50

    bigD

    over 7 years ago

    80 Comments

    Excellent information. Too many times we arrive on the scene thinking, "I wish these people would grow up and learn to handle their problems like adults". Sadly, on July 5, 2007, Deputy Josh Norris of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office paid the ultimate price. As he walked up to the house, he was shot by the male half of the domestic disturbance, who then turned the gun on himself. Let this tragedy be a wakeup call to all of us out there to stay sharp and never take anything for granted. May he rest in peace...

  • 4_max50

    bvpd1813

    over 7 years ago

    2 Comments

    So true! We had an officer shot and killed in our neighboring city almost 2 years ago that was responding to a domestic violence call. Everyone stay safe!

  • Th_plugman1_max50

    Sparkplug

    over 7 years ago

    420 Comments

    This is a great article. All officers should know this, but we do become complacent. My husband who has just started the academy always told me I was strange, because I made it a point to look at the ODMP websit and all the video's inwhich officers were lost just to keep on my toes. I work in a town of 3500, so trust me even though we are busy for the size, it is very easy to become complacent. Now that my husband is in the academy he understands.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TaTTwo

    over 7 years ago

    2 Comments

    Great Article.....

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    SUES

    over 7 years ago

    20 Comments

    I just want to comment that this is what the victim can live with or in fear of every day(this usually means woman and children who don't have the right or strength to protect themselves). It's preached that it's not the victim's fault, but until that's believed I think the relief for victims is minimal. I would like to implore LEO's to get more understanding of DV for their own safety and the victims.

  • Police_car_max50

    lawman07

    over 7 years ago

    376 Comments

    Excellent steps to remember. Thanks for bringing them to light.

  • Police_car_max50

    lawman07

    over 7 years ago

    376 Comments

    Excellent steps to remember. Thanks for bringing them to light.

  • Police_car_max50

    lawman07

    over 7 years ago

    376 Comments

    Excellent steps to remember. Thanks for bringing them to light.

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a criminal justice degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.

Recent Activity

Photo_user_blank_big
saiful posted in: "Watch@@@ Aldo vs Mendes Live Stream", 1 minute ago.
Photo_user_blank_big
saiful posted: "Watch@@@ Aldo vs Mendes Live Stream", 2 minutes ago.
Photo_user_blank_big
saiful posted in: "Watch@@@ Aldo vs Mendes Live Stream", 2 minutes ago.
Bluejersey_max30
LanaNJ posted in: "Electronic cigarettes", 27 minutes ago.