• Camille

Beat Cops

july 6, 2011 by camille hayes leave a comment

Do you remember that recent case out of NYC in which a patrol officer was accused of raping an intoxicated woman while his partner stood guard outside her apartment? And then they were both acquitted despite a mountain of convincing evidence, and people were horrified and everything was gross, the end? Well, as it turns out that wasn’t the end, because another woman has emerged to say that she was mistreated by the same pair of cops several months earlier—not raped, but physically abused and personally degraded in a circumstance in which the two were charged to assist her. There are records of the complaints she filed at the time, so taken together with the alleged rape it’s all a little fishy, no? One might deduce—if one were an extremely jaded feminist blogger, for example—that Officer Kenneth Moreno has a problem with the ladies.

The new allegations, upsetting as they are, don’t particularly surprise me (See? Jaded!), because a fun fact you don’t hear too much about is that police officers as a group have a very high rate of domestic violence. Estimates vary, but the most conservative put incidence at around 24%, more than TWICE the rate of the general population, which Jesus, guys, lay off once in a while. Add to that the fact that domestic violence is under-reported, and probably even more so in couples in which the batterer is a cop with ready access to firearms, and you can deduce that the actual rate is . . . well, I got a “C” in stats so I don’t know. But it’s probably really high.

Domestic abuse among peace officers is kind of an open secret—everybody knows about it, but little in the way of an organized effort has been made to do anything about it. There are systemic reasons why these guys don’t get punished: the officer’s code of silence, a law enforcement system that’s rigged in favor of, duh, the enforcers. But what about the ways in which we’re all complicit in shielding abusive cops from punishment? Or never mind that, what about the ways in which we’re complicit in encouraging their violence in the first place? I mean, look at the set-up: the job requires people who are, if not eager, at least willing to use violence in the course of a normal workday. That’s a pretty specific group, right there. Add to that the undeniably sexist culture in police departments, and what you get is a group of people trained and rewarded for subscribing to a particularly poisonous version of masculinity and power. This may in some cases make for effective cops, but I suspect that the two women in New York, and the countless, nameless victims of officer-perpetrated domestic abuse, may have a different story to tell about what happens when we reward male violence.

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