Domestic Violence Arrest Reform
HARTFORD –State Representatives John Piscopo (R-76) and David Wilson (R-66) joined fellow legislative colleagues in the Connecticut House of Representatives in supporting a dominant aggressor provision within the existing state laws dictating arrest protocol in cases of family violence.
The bill, SB 466 An Act Concerning Dual Arrests and the Training Required of Law Enforcement Personnel with Respect to Domestic Violence, requires a peace officer, in responding to a family violence complaint made by two or more opposing parties, to arrest the person the officer determines is the dominant aggressor (the person who poses the most serious ongoing threat in a situation involving a suspected family violence crime). Current state law includes a mandatory arrest provision, whereby both parties involved in the domestic dispute may be arrested.
“This important bi-partisan legislation stands up for victims of domestic violence,” said Rep. Piscopo, a co-sponsor of the bill. “It is my hope that victims who have lived in fear and suffered in silence for far too long find courage to report dangerous and abusive situations, knowing that they can come forward and seek help without fear of being detained.”
Rep. Wilson, also a co-sponsor of the bill, added, “Due to the mandatory arrest provision, the dual arrest rate in the State of Connecticut is nearly three times the national average. This dominant aggressor provision will have an immediate impact in reversing that statistic, which means less victims of domestic violence being arrested and further traumatized by dual arrest and the system designed to protect them. I proudly cast my vote in the affirmative.”
According to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 27% of family violence dispatch calls result in a dual arrest. Additionally, intakes as a direct result of a domestic violence arrest account for 32% of what is on the criminal docket for courts across the state, creating a huge logistical and financial burden for the state. In addition, dual arrest often decreases the victim’s safety, creates additional trauma for the victim’s children (children see a victim arrested and develop distrust of authority), raises a defense for the aggressor when the victim has been arrested and charged, and creates a larger legal Financial burdened for the victim.
The measure passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 147-1, and the state Senate earlier this week by a vote of 36-0. It was transmitted to the governor’s desk for immediate signing.
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