Understanding domestic violence through the perspectives of local law enforcement

By Sequoia Sinclair | Staff Writer

The domestic violence panel changes their theme each time. At this year’s panel discussion, the speakers discussed their role in law enforcement and shared their experiences in handling intimate partner violence.

The “Policing Domestic Violence” panel discussion was held in room 170 of University Hall at 6 p.m. on Oct. 19.

Officer Samuel Long from Grovetown Department of Public Safety explained his role.

“I am the initial response to an investigation,” Long said. “I try to figure out what the underlining problem is that started the incident. Ultimately, to figure out what the best route to take is.”

Long provided multiple examples during the panel discussion.

“To defuse things, it may be to separate both the individuals or make an arrest. Sometimes it’s to arrest both parties,” He said. “There needs to be a sufficient, probable cause to make an arrest. Georgia has very good laws. It can be difficult at times, but that’s what I do on a day-to-day basis.”

Long disclosed one facet of how law enforcement can get involved with domestic violence.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office provided some insight. Sergeant Langford, a homicide Sergeant, explained his role in law enforcement.

“Usually, I am the latter of the ones to get involved,” said Langford. “Once the forefront deputies make the case, I assist on which way to go and investigate more in-depth to make an arrest.”

In certain cases that do not involve death, Langford takes part in helping make arrest.

“Does the victim need assistance?” He asked. “Some need assistance to go forth with an arrest because the victim may be afraid, or in love with the offender. I try to find a probable cause when there is little cooperation from the victim.”

When asked to discuss how domestic violence cases differ from other cases, Jennifer Harper, who represents Military Police took the question.

She said it is hard because if the victim does not want to go forward with pressing charges there is nothing she can do.

“It is common in the military,” said Harper. “Victims usually want to protect their spouse and are more focused on the career of the soldier than for themselves.

To further explain her discomfort, Harper said that “you can see they want to get help but they’re not going to and that’s what is hard.”

“Most of the time, they don’t,” she said. “Sometimes, it ends in death of the victim or the child or even the soldier.”

The Captain of Augusta University Public Safety Police Ted McNeal emphasized, “Get help! Know that Augusta University has laws in place to protect you.”

“My goal is to make sure you are here to learn in a safe environment,” said McNeal. “If there is a problem, please communicate. We offer counseling and can guide you in the right direction.”

After the “Policing Domestic Violence” panel on Oct. 19, Chief of Police James Lyon and Capt. McNeal further discussed the topic on domestic violence.

When asked what are the pressing issues at AU in regards to domestic violence, police Capt. McNeal said the problem is communication.

“According to reports, intimate partner violence is slim to none,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Students may be afraid of retaliation, scared to come forward, or don’t know where to go to get info.”

What are ways that can help people come forward about intimate partner abuse on campus?

Chief of Police Lyon pressed on communication as well.

“One of the purposes of setting up these educational programs are to create an environment where polices officers get out in the community to build trust,” he said. “We are going to roll out more officers on bikes. This is going to allow students and officers to be more personal. We want you to feel more comfortable.”

Police Capt. McNeal closed the panel by describing police officers as “guardians and warriors.”

“When you think of police officers, there is negativity associated with that,” he said. “It is important for people to know officers outside of getting in trouble and to know they are there not to just react when something goes wrong. You can trust us. In a situation where a warrior is needed, that is what I’ll be.”

Contact Sequoia Sinclair at sesinclair@augusta.edu.

Published on November 7, 2016 in Vol. 59, Issue 2 of The Bell Ringer newspaper.

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