Are Montgomery County police documenting domestic violence incidents when they respond to a 911 call? Court Watch recently obtained alarming data on domestic violence 911 calls from the Montgomery County Police Department.
We were extremely surprised by the large percentage of calls for which no report was written.
But is the lack of a visible injury an adequate measure of the seriousness of an intimate partner violence incident? Strangulation cases are the most potentially lethal cases except for those where a gun or knife are used. Yet 50% of strangulation victims show no visible injury immediately following the incident. Other serious injuries such as concussion or traumatic brain injury may not be apparent immediately. Police often believe that a threat to kill is the most dangerous marker for future serious abuse or homicide, yet threats leave no marks.
Documenting domestic violence
Any time a domestic violence victim is scared enough to call 911, statements by the victim and alleged abuser as well as any witnesses, should be preserved. The police may have only one chance to collect physical evidence. Police reports provide valuable data to prompt service provider follow-up and can be helpful for prosecutors if there are later criminal charges. A police report can help a judge determine the need for a protective order, whether or not criminal charges are filed.