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90 Women Law. J. 28 (2004-2005)
Batterers with Badges: Officer-Involved Domestic Violence

handle is hein.journals/wolj90 and id is 224 raw text is: Batterers with Badges:
Officer-Involved Domestic Violence
By Jennifer Ammons*
Winner, NAWL Domestic Violence Essay Contest

* -

In many ways, the story of Crystal Brame
resembles that of many women abused by the
men they love. Crystal's husband checked her
car's odometer frequently, timed how long she
took running errands, and weighed her daily.'
She had to obtain his permission to use their
credit card,2 and he gave her a stipend every
two weeks, checking the receipts to see how
she spent it. Mr. Brame verbally abused his
wife, telling her she was fat and... ugly and
no man would ever want her.'4 He threatened
her life, put a loaded gun to her head,5 and
even tried to choke her several times, but each
time he sent flowers afterward.6 When she
eventually left him, he killed her.7
But in one critical way, Crystal Brame dif-
fered from other abused women: her husband
was the    Chief of Police    in  Tacoma,
Washington. Because he was a high-ranking
law enforcement officer, Crystal found it diffi-
cult to get the help she needed to escape the
abuse. When she told him the violence need-
ed to stop, he challenged her, asking, Who are
you going to call? One of my buddies?10
When she did report him to the police, her
fears were dismissed, and the City Manager
prevented an investigation by internal affairs.'1
In fact, the Assistant Police Chief began
harassing Crystal and her family.2 When a
journalist reported Crystal's allegations, the
president of the Tacoma police union threat-
ened the writer.13  After Crystal filed for
divorce, Chief Brame made his own allega-
tions, blam[ing] his wife's 'ferocious temper'
and emotional instability for the abuse, and
claiming that his 5-foot-tall, 105-pound wife
'ha[d] physically abused [him] for a number
of years.''4 Ultimately, Chief Brame used his
service revolver to fatally shoot her and him-
The Brame tragedy is not unique.. Instead,
it merely illustrates many of the particular dif-
ficulties faced by victims of police batterers.
Because of the specialized training law
enforcement officers receive and their access
to resources ranging from a firearm to comput-


erized information databases, officers are
extraordinarily 6well prepared to become abu-
sive at home.'  Furthermore, the close-knit,
male-oriented police culture and ability of
police to track people down make it extremely
difficult for victims of abusers in law enforce-
ment to escape the situation or get help.17
This subclass of domestic violence (DV),
known as officer-involved domestic violence
(OIDV), is easy to define, but particularly dif-
ficult to craft effective interventions for.
Researchers have struggled to even determine
the extent of the problem with any accuracy.18
However, the stories of women'9 murdered by
their law enforcement partners continue to
appear in the news,20 indicating that current
laws and policies designed to stop the violence
have not succeeded.
In one critical way, Crystal
Brame differed from other
abused women: her
husband was the Chief
of Police in Tacoma,
This article examines why OIDV seems
particularly resistant to reduction and recom-
mends ways in which policies can more effec-
tively target it. Part I gives a brief overview of
DV in general, while Part II describes the prob-
lem of OIDV, including its prevalence and par-
ticular difficulties associated with it. Part III
looks at the current law and policies designed
to address DV generally and OIDV in particu-
lar, and part IV discusses why they have failed
to make the strides expected. Finally, Part V
suggests changes necessary in order to make
the current law and policies effective in reduc-
ing OIDV
I. Domestic Violence: A National Epidemic
Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten.21
In 2001 alone, there were nearly 700,000 inci-
dents of DV that threatened the well being of

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