Police Academy Curriculum Stereotypes Men as Abusers
WASHINGTON/August 2, 2012 — Maine’s predominant aggressor policy removes the presumption of innocence from the accused and labels men as abusers, says victim-advocacy group Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE). The Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s “Identifying Predominant Aggressors in Domestic Violence Cases,” designed to train state law enforcement personnel, unfairly targets men, even though both sexes engage in domestic violence at similar rates.
One Centers for Disease Control study found 50% of violent couples are mutually aggressive, meaning both persons are exchanging blows. For one-way aggression, females were the perpetrators in 7 out of 10 cases (Daniel Whitaker. American Journal of Public Health, May 2007).
Law enforcement officials openly acknowledge that predominant aggressor policies are biased. “When it’s a ‘he-said, she-said’ situation with no injuries, we just arrest the guy,” admitted one officer.
SAVE’s report on Predominant Aggressor policies cites numerous deficiencies with the Maine curriculum (http://www.saveservices.org/
- The curriculum arbitrarily classifies face scratches, eye gouges, and arm bites as defensive, when such injuries can be actions taken by the perpetrator.
- Some criteria for identifying the predominant aggressor are subjective and vague such as, “power and control dynamics of the couple.”
- None of the curriculum’s 10 vignettes recommends arresting the female.
In addition, the curriculum does not address the possibility that the accusations may be false. It’s not uncommon for a woman to perpetrate domestic violence against a man, then call the police and accuse him of the abuse, SAVE notes.
During a July 10 domestic violence conference held in Portsmouth, NH, researcher John Hamel termed predominant aggressor policies “based in politics and ideology” and “nearly impossible to properly implement.” Several national columnists have also highlighted the biases in the Maine curriculum.
“Domestic violence experts around the country are pointing to Maine’s predominant aggressor guide as an example of a well-intentioned law enforcement policy that ends up revictimizing the victim,” says SAVE spokesperson Philip W. Cook. “Maine lawmakers must demand that Criminal Justice Academy director John Rogers rescind his harmful curriculum.”
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner violence: www.saveservices.org.