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Wilfrid Laurier study: police need to investigate arguments

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If police are called to deal with a domestic dispute in Waterloo, someone will probably be arrested. Although there may be limited or no evidence of a crime, police may still arrest someone in order to defuse a situation. Despite this harsh practice, a criminology professor from Wilfrid Laurier University has recently recommended that Ontario police do more to investigate domestic threats and other verbal disputes.

According to the professor, police should not look at a disagreement as a disagreement, but to see if it is a clue of more dangerous behavior. It is certainly law enforcement’s responsibility to protect men and women from domestic violence, but it may be horribly invasive to treat every argument as a potential domestic assault. Moreover, if police operate solely on the accusation of one person, the other individual involved could quickly become a suspect into something much bigger than a verbal spat.

The study focused mostly on women, most of whom identified themselves as the victims. Some of the women noted that police considered them to be just as responsible for the situation, which bothered many of them. If police were just investigating a situation, however, it is within their right to question both men and women, or charge them if it is appropriate. It should also be noted that much of that frustration is likely also felt by the men who stand accused of causing domestic disturbances.

Ultimately, the study does not recommend verbal disputes should be criminalised, which is fortunate. If law enforcement does take up this proposal, however, there will be many men and women being scrutinized for further traces of violent behavior just for having a disagreement.

Source: Canada.com, “Police should pay more attention to verbal domestic disputes, study suggests,” Douglas Quan, 17 Sept. 2013

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