A Detroit police officer was recently discharged from his post after being charged with domestic violence and third-degree criminal sexual conduct of his wife. Brendon Moquin was placed on paid administrative leave while the department investigated his charges. Moquin posted his $25,000 bond after arraignment and awaits further court proceedings. There is little to distinguish the case from 'routine' domestic violence cases, but it does warrant a revisitation of at least one ongoing issue in the sphere of domestic violence: police-perpetrated domestic violence.
In 2013, the New York Times released an article exploring the issue, entitled "Departments Are Slow To Police Their Own Abusers.” The article cites a 2003 Tacoma murder in which a police officer shot his own wife. The incident drew national attention to the issue, prompting more aggressive responses to police-perpetrated domestic violence. The International Association of Police Chiefs adopted a zero-tolerance policy for the offense, for which treatment had formerly been lenient. The IAPC took further measures to ensure that domestic violence would be properly dealt with in police households, however departments were slow to enforce them.
The Times noted that according to “records... punishment [for domestic abuse among officers] is often light and job loss uncommon.” It might be said that police-perpetrated crime 'benefits' from a degree of bias; such incidents call for officers to take punitive action against their own, their colleagues/friends. Things become difficult when officers personally tangle with crime, with their law enforcement role affecting most steps of the legal procedure. Penny Harrington, a former police chief, suggested that prosecutors often may not pursue domestic abuse charges against a police officer, because they need the officer's testimony elsewhere and do not “wish to create ill will.”
Because the problem stems from a lack of punitive action, it is difficult to measure and assess exactly how often police officers commit the crime with the awareness of their department, and no action takes place. Taking advantage of Florida's open records laws, the Times found that approximately 30% of officers accused of domestic violence in Florida were still on the job one year later, compared to just 1% of officers who tested positive on a drug test, indicating a far more lenient attitude toward the offense.
Offering an insider take on the issue, former police officer Dottie Davis was abused by her partner, a fellow police officer. Capturing the essence of the issue, Davis explained to the Times how officers would do nothing to help her because “they worked with him... he stood up and shook both their hands and began to apologize immediately, and so I knew right then that not much was going to be done.”
The issue of unreported, un-reprimanded police domestic violence serves to highlight the imperfections of law enforcement and in a way, the greater justice system. Police are not infallible and do not always execute procedure flawlessly. Moquin's dismissal indicates a proactive attitude on the part of police departments, who have made positive changes in their handling of such charges. It remains imperative, however, to investigate every charge leveled against an individual, to ensure that the accused are equally protected under the law while investigation is pending.
If you have been charged with domestic violence, you are entitled to strong legal representation to review the charges against you. Do not hesitate to contact domestic violence lawyer Steve Karimi so he may begin reviewing your case.