Interviewer: What would you say are some of the more common misconceptions that people have about assault and domestic violence as a whole?
Paul Geller: I’m certainly not condoning domestic abuse or domestic violence or assault cases of any sort, but I think often times you’ll have situations where there may be an argument between a husband and a wife, for instance, and it may turn, not necessarily physical, but very hostile to the extent of even having things thrown and/or broken–not necessarily at each other, but in the course of the heated argument. Someone makes a threat to call the police and they in fact do, and that threat “Hey, if you don’t stop doing this, I’m going to call the police” is used without understanding or realizing the full ramification of what that brings with it.
The Police May Listen to What Both Parties Say, But If the Situation Calls for it, an Arrest Will Be Made
So, when the police then come out and try to sort out the facts and determine what took place, the person who called may say “Well, hey, you know what? I don’t need him to be arrested. You don’t have to interview him, you don’t have to put him in handcuffs and put him in the back of a patrol car. And I don’t want him arrested; I don’t want this to happen”. And what ends up happening is the police make note of that in the report, but the person still gets arrested. I think one of the misconceptions here is using that threat of “If you don’t stop, I’m going to call the police” really does have some very serious consequences to it.
The Actual Threat of Violence in a Domestic Scenario Is Much Less as Compared to the Idle Threats Thrown Around in a Domestic Dispute
I am certainly not condoning or suggesting that people shouldn’t call the police if they feel that they need assistance because their life is in danger or they’re being harmed, but to use it as a threat to get your boyfriend or girlfriend or husband/wife etc., to be more compliant to whatever it is you’re requesting, it’s not the way to go. There are more serious and violent confrontations. I think in reality, those circumstances, though they occur far too often, are less–often times substantially less–frequent than the circumstances where there are idle threats between the parties.
Police Officers Do Not Have to Make an Arrest in a Domestic Violence Case by Way of Policy
Interviewer: What if, for instance, a neighbor calls that believes a couple to be arguing or getting into some sort of domestic dispute when, in fact, that wasn’t the case. Does the police officer utilize the probable cause or do they always have to make an arrest?
Paul Geller: It’s not that they always have to make an arrest by way of policy; it’s a matter of making sure they do not end up in a situation like I described where there’s something tragic that happens later on. So, for instance, let’s take your hypothetical one and say the neighbor calls the police and they hear an argument and perhaps the sounds of items being thrown–that type of thing. If the police respond, what they typically will do is separate the parties involved and obtain statements separately from each of them.
The Police will Investigate the Matter to Determine If Someone has been Injured or If Someone has been Overly Aggressive
If one of them appears to be injured and/or another person appears to be more of the aggressor, regardless of who called, it’s likely that someone’s going to be arrested because of the fact that they came out to do an investigation in response to a call. So, it’s somewhat irrelevant as to who calls. In fact, I’ve had situations where not only neighbors have called, but the person who is ultimately charged as a defendant in a criminal court case is in fact the person who initially called the police. So, calling the police or being the first to the dinner table, so to speak, doesn’t necessarily mean that you, as the caller, can’t find yourself in hot water.
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