Domestic violence is a widespread problem for both law enforcement and public health. Unfortunately, it gets swept under the rug. Despite how actions involved in domestic violence can result in heinous criminal offenses, for some, it is seen as a civil dispute that no one within a community wants to get tangled in nor mediate.
On this webinar, the seriousness of domestic violence, identifying offenders and victims, the consequences after the incident, and best practices when investigating such cases are discussed by Sara Mahoney of the Allegany County Probation Department.
Sara served as a probation officer for twelve years specializing in Domestic Violence. Her responsibilities in the job include investigating DV offenders and facilitating DV offender groups. She trained as a domestic violence instructor under the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center of the Department of Homeland Security and is certified for Traumatic Stress in Domestic Violence at the American Academy of Experts.
Sara unpacked important concepts and details in Domestic Violence Investigations including:
- The typical characteristics to watch out for in perpetrators and victims of Domestic Violence.
- Practices and concepts to remember when working with the DV victims and offenders.
The APPA Guidelines to follow in doing domestic violence pre-sentencing investigation such as:
- The magnitude of thorough investigation through complete and accurate information gathering.
- The significance of the interview technique employed in capturing the information needed.
- The importance of identifying and investigating potential risk factors for both offender and victim.
- The value of not merely going by the book and count on assessment ratings but also trusting ones’ instincts when gauging the risk factors.
- Red flags to watch out for that may serve as an aggravating circumstance when providing assessment and evaluation.
- Analyzing the Domestic Violence Criminal History that encompasses allegations, arrests, convictions, protective orders, firearms, as well as family court history.
- Going through the description of the present offense/case through the arrest reports, depositions, witness statements, 911 call audio, and crime scene photos.
- The offender interview and the value of allowing the offender to drive the interview and tell the story.
- Using the arresting officer statement to corroborate the details of the incident
- Guidelines when dealing with victims and how to effectively secure victim’s statement.
- The importance of talking to the victim advocate.
- The value of investigating the offender’s history as far back to childhood to get an understanding of his/her behavior.
- Writing the report summary and drafting recommendations.
- Asking questions in specialized cases such as strangulation, sexual assault, and stalking.
- The different risk assessment measure and tools to use and choose from.
- Poll questions gauged the attendees’ familiarity in dealing with domestic violence cases.
Questions raised in the Q&A segment includes:
- Associating animal abuse to domestic violence.
- Using seemingly unrelated information as vehicle registration in DV cases.
- The correlation of generalized risk assessment tools to specialized DV risk assessment tools, and which ones Sara specifically recommends.
- Overriding the results of risk assessment tools through mindful evaluation of circumstances as provided by the victim, witnesses, arresting officers, etc.
- Creating a special task force for high-risk DV cases to deal with related matters as weapons/firearms prohibition.
- How to interview victims without running the risk of retraumatization.
- Dealing with uncooperative offenders.
- The time it takes to complete the paperwork for PSIs.
- Allegany County Template: Arresting Officers Report (Word Document)
- Allegany County Template: Victim Impact Statement (Word Document)
- Lessons Learned about Supervising Domestic Offender – Andrew Klein
- Domestic Violence – a Probation Officers View – APPA (Reddick, Chapin)
- Community Corrections Response to Domestic Violence – APPA
- Do You Know What It Feels Like to Drown? – University of Pennsylvania
- The Domestic Violence Survivor Assessment – Elsevier