FOXNews.com – Views – ifeminists – Mother Sues Cops For Failing to Protect Kids
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Town of Castle Rock, Colorado v. Gonzales [.pdf]. At issue is whether Jessica Gonzales can sue her local police department in federal court for violating her Constitutional rights when they did not enforce a restraining order.
The decision, expected in June, could revolutionize the way police departments across America handle such orders. Hopefully, it will spark discussion of how they are issued as well.
People have an unrealistic expectation when it comes to restraining orders. They don’t understand what they are and what they can do. I have been dealing with RO violations as a dispatcher for the past 15 years. The opinion of everyone I work with, men and women, dispatch, records and patrol, is that a minimum of 50% of the ROs are filed for reasons other than protection. Note that I said a minimum or 50%, the actual number of ROs filed for ulterior reasons is likely even more.
The most common reason for requesting an RO is for child custody. There are divorce proceedings starting and the woman wants to punish the man by withholding access to the children. The problem is that ROs are not given for that reason, they are given supposedly to protect the woman from violence. The standards are pretty low, all she has to do is pretty much show up and say that she is frightened, she does not have to show any history or anything.
Another reason is to get control of the house and property. When the male half is served with an RO he is usually given a twenty minute standby with a deputy to get his clothing and personal possessions. That includes medication, papers etc, but not property such as tools, vehicles or furniture. We have had cases where the male was a professional mechanic and when his wife got an RO he was kicked out without his tools. He had no way to work. By the time he had gone to court and got a writ to get his tools, she had sold them for half their value. There were no charges brought because Oregon is a “community property” state and all property is considered jointly owned. He was screwed. This is not an isolated case. It happens time after time.
The other thing that is quite popular is the ‘honey trap”. ROs only work one way. They restrain the respondent (usually male) from contacting the petitioner (usually female) but does not restrain her from contacting him. I know of several cases where the female has invited the male over to “make up” and then turned around and reported a violation when he showed up, some even wait until the next morning, when all their itches have been scratched.
In this case, the male was restrained from contacting Mrs. Gonzales and the children except during a scheduled “parenting time”. The incident occurred during that parenting time. There is a dispute as to whether or not there was actually a violation. The restraining order was modified to allow Mr. Gonzales to pick up the children for “parenting time.” I would say off hand that no violation occurred. I would, of course, bump it to my supervisor for the final determination. He would have done what was probably done in this case, send a deputy to interview her.
Since Mr. Gonzales ended up committing “suicide by cop”, I am wondering exactly what she expected the police to do at that point that would have altered the outcome?
The truth about ROs is that they only provide protection against those who choose to follow them. If a respondent decides that he is not going to be bound by the order and is willing to go to the extremes that Mr. Gonzales did in this case, there is very little the police or anyone else can do except clean up the mess afterwards.
I have yet to see a restraining order that can stop a 9mm.