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No exceptions on domestic violence

Ohio has many laws that deal with Domestic Violence, all of which are to protect people who are victims of their circumstances. ORC 2919.25 states that (A) No person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member. (B) No person shall recklessly cause serious physical harm to a family or household member. (C) No person, by threat of force, shall knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat to use violence. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, male or female, young and old. There were more than 66,500 reported cases of domestic violence in Ohio in 2013. Twenty-four percent of the victims are male and 76 percent are female.

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office takes domestic violence very seriously because not only does the law require swift and concise action, but we understand that by leaving the aggressor in the house puts everyone’s life in danger. ORC 2935.032 (among other laws) requires a law enforcement officer to make an arrest if certain criteria are met which include but are not limited to signs of violence and injury to the victim. Most offenders will commit many acts that are not reported and the majority of offenders will offend again even after an arrest. Domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous calls for law enforcement to handle because the situation is already volatile with the aggressor sometimes feeling at that moment that their lives are ruined, which causes them to act even more irrational.

Once an arrest is made, the vast majority of the time the victim will ask that the charges be dropped. The victim begins to fear the repercussions once the offender returns home or they begin to fear what may happen to them financially and if they will have enough money to live on. After an arrest and charges are filed the offender will sometimes begin to threaten or intimidate a victim into “dropping” the charges. The offender will threaten to harm them, threaten to kick them out of the house, threaten to take the children away, or begin to promise them the “moon” if they will drop the charges. The victim will swallow their pride and approach the court and say that the acts of violence did not occur or it was not as bad as she/he first reported it to be. The courts, prosecutors, law enforcement, and DV advocates know these things happen and that is why legislators have made many laws to protect the victim.

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office understands that there are going to be arguments and fights in some households. We never rush to judgment because we take no pleasure in arresting anyone. Sheriff’s deputies gather the facts and collect evidence in these and every case and if the facts and evidence shows that domestic violence has occurred we make the required arrest. The fact that you may have a title attached to your name or that you may be a dignitary has no bearing on our decision to file a criminal report or make an arrest.

I think my record as a law enforcement officer speaks for itself as I have been involved in the arrests of my own family members, friends, co-workers, law enforcement officers, and elected officials. I take no pride in this and have been physically ill before over the stress that these criminal investigations and arrests have caused.

The man I am and the oath I have taken requires me to treat everyone the same. Doing the right thing sometimes is no fun at all. I have been ridiculed, I have lost friends and some people become very angry with me thinking I should have looked the other way because of who the person is. I often ask these people, if the offender would have committed the crime against you or your family member would you still want me to look the other way? Most often the answer is no, so I’ve always tried to enforce the law evenly regardless economic or social standing.

I can also say that I am proud that the other members of the sheriff’s office feel the same way. Everyone makes mistakes, law enforcement included but we (law enforcement) have a duty and obligation to protect the citizens against those who want to hurt us.

 

Jeff Lawless

Lawrence County Sheriff