A prosecutor in King County is attempting to bring attention to a change in how police handle domestic violence cases. Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a letter to the City Council that the police department has been sending out patrol officers instead of detectives to handles misdemeanor domestic violence cases. In the past, detectives handled all domestic violence calls. Satterberg believes that this means not all domestic violence cases are getting the treatment that they deserve. Only felony domestic violence cases are handled by detectives now and some believe that this means lesser charges are being glossed over.
Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel responded to the criticism by saying:
[P]olice altered their approach in 2012 in response to a spike in felony domestic-violence assaults. But the department took steps to assure patrol officers received special training on preparing domestic-violence cases and assigned a full-time officer to work with the City Attorney's Office.
Every year there are over 1,000 domestic violence arrests made in Seattle alone. While every report deserves to be taken seriously, it is unrealistic to demand that a trained domestic violence detective can respond to each call right away.
Satterberg also says that domestic violence cases are not being followed up on as they should. For example, there were 154 cases in 2012 where additional investigation was recommended. Of them, only about half received the follow-up that they needed.
This practice can prove to be troubling for victims and alleged offenders as well. The lack of police follow-up may result in charges being filed based on original accusations. Many times in domestic violence cases, the abuser will be the one to call the police in order to get the victim in trouble for fighting back leading to victims being arrested for defending themselves. Without proper police investigation, the truth will not get a chance to reveal itself.