Officer Involved Domestic Violence
Far too many officers get jammed up and fired over domestics which occur in their personal lives. Don't be one of them.
The dynamics of officer involved domestics are as complex as police work. A police officer is more prone to domestics as he/she is in a high stress job which unfortunately spills over into his personal life. Similarly, his/her personal life is brought into the legal system as this is the area where he spends most of his time. Spouses and significant others are well aware of the ramifications that filing a complaint would cause the officer as the officer has shared another officer's domestic nightmare with his spouse. Spouse's quickly learn that threatening to file a complaint, even if it is false, quickly gives them the upper hand in a domestic confrontation.
As emotions and tempers flair, rash decisions are made. Once made, it is hard to unmake them or to control the damage caused by them. At the very least an internal investigation is initiated. If the local police are called, a TRO is offered and, if obtained, will lead to an immediate suspension from the force. Laws dictate the removal of all weapons from the officer, this causes the officer to be deemed unfit for duty which further complicates the matter. If a Final Restraining Order is entered, a Motion will be made by the Prosecutor's office to forfeit the weapons. No longer able to carry a firearm, termination will follow shortly thereafter. The termination will permanently alter the lives of both the officer and his family, financial hardship ensues. There usually is not a sufficient cooling off period between the issuance of the Temporary Retraining Order and the Final Order to rationally consider the ramifications. The Judge is left with no option but to error on the side of caution.
If a TRO has been entered against you, call an attorney immediately. Ask your attorney to file for an Interim Relief which will allow you to carry your weapon on duty. If the offense is a disorderly persons offense, request administrative duties until the hearing for the Final Restraining Order. Have the hearing for the final order POSTPONED for as long as possible to allow for the gathering of evidence, preparation of witnesses, etc. If a Final Restraining Order is granted, you will be years in the appeal process.
The best way to handle these situations is to be prepared for them. A spouse will usually threaten to obtain a restraining order or to make a "report" to the officer's supervisor prior to actually following through with the action. These incidents need to be well documented when they occur. The officer needs to report the threat to someone he can trust. Ideally this would be a supervisor in his Department, however, if reporting the incident will initiate an internal investigation the officer may chose instead to confide in a fellow officer.
Documentation is the best defense in these situations. Having an Internal Affairs investigation conducted that shows no wrong doing on behalf of the officer will protect him against false complaints in the future. If possible, get the threat on tape.
Be warned, even if the restraining order is dropped, the Prosecutor's office can still refuse to return your weapon to you.
Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, whenever any municipal police officer is charged under the law of this State, another state, or the United States, with an offense, said police officer may be suspended from performing his duties, with pay, until the case against said officer is disposed of at trial, until the complaint is dismissed, or until the prosecution is terminated; provided, however, that if a grand jury returns an indictment against said officer, or said officer is charged with an offense which is a high misdemeanor or which involves moral turpitude or dishonesty, said officer may be suspended from his duties, without pay, until the case against him is disposed of at trial, until the complaint is dismissed or until the prosecution is terminated.
Officer suspended without pay while TRO is being litigated is awarded back pay:
NO MATTER WHAT THE CASE YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO OBTAIN A FITNESS FOR DUTY EXAM PRIOR TO RETURNING TO WORK
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