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.

In 2018, there were 2,029 emergency 911 calls from homes which police documented in reports. But there were another 11,277 911 calls that have no written police report. While there may be some different family-related 911 calls, such as school truancy included in the 11,277 count, the high number of 911 calls to homes without reports is alarming and requires more intensive investigation.
Numerous victims, advocates and family law lawyers tell us that County police often decline or refuse to write a report when a domestic violence victim has called 911, particularly when there is no visible injury.Lack of visible injury doesn’t mean it isn’t serious

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.