State Rep. Pam Staneski (R-Milford and Orange) joined a bipartisan group of legislators and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence in calling on Connecticut to change its existing intimate partner violence dual arrest law to add a “dominant aggressive” provision.
Current statistics show that Connecticut has a 20 percent dual arrest rate, in which both the alleged aggressor and victim are arrested. The intent of the mandatory arrest policy was to remove discretion at the incident scene. However, it came with the unintended consequence of victims being arrested.
Connecticut’s dual arrest rate is double national rates, according to a press release from Staneski’s office. Victims of domestic violence have experienced first-hand the unintended consequences of dual arrest when they make the call to have police intervene – small children who just witnessed a parent being abused are traumatized when both parents are carted away in police cars, public reporting of the arrest results in quiet gossip among neighbors, and many feel victimized all over again.
“I certainly understand the concern expressed by some of our police officers around the liability that can come when an arrest is not made, especially when our statutory language dictates an arrest in response to an incident of family violence,” Staneski said. “These are emotionally charged situations; however, asking the state to allow police officers some discretion in handling the incident by adding a ‘dominant aggressive’ provision will help reduce the harmful impact on victims and their families.”
The proposal that the group supports is before the judiciary committee and calls for changing Connecticut’s family violence arrest law to clarify that, when receiving complaints from two or more opposing parties, law enforcement must determine which party is the dominant aggressor. Such laws exist in 27 other states and guide law enforcement in determining which party is the most significant aggressor or poses the most serious ongoing threat.