AG Lynch Prohibits Gender Discrimination in Police Response to Domestic Violence — Not!

December 18, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Did the United States Justice Department just issue new guidelines in domestic violence cases that prohibit gender bias in who gets arrested and charged and who doesn’t? This article reports that it did (Buzzfeed, 12/15/15). But did it?

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Tuesday a new initiative from the Justice Department designed to prevent gender bias in law enforcement’s approach to domestic violence and sexual assault cases.

And none other than Attorney General Loretta Lynch seems to concur.

The guidance — created in collaboration with victim advocates, police leaders, and civil rights advocates — aims to examine how gender bias limits the response of police to cases of domestic and sexual violence, and to provide a set of “basic principles” to help eliminate its effect, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement…

The attorney general said the new guidance was created in response to requests for assistance from many of the DOJ’s law enforcement partners in creating anti-gender bias guidelines to integrate into their training, policies, and practices.

The guidance will affect state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, Lynch said.

So, as Chance would say, “All is well in the garden,” right? After four decades of outright dishonesty about domestic violence, we’re now going to teach law enforcement officials the truth about DV — that women are more likely than men to initiate intimate partner violence, that the overall rate of perpetration is equal between men and women, that about 35% of the victims of serious abuse are men, that only a small percentage of violence is done for the purpose of controlling a partner, that there is a shocking imbalance between services for female victims and male victims, that domestic violence is overwhelmingly generational, i.e. a person abused as a child is far more likely to become an abuser than a child who is not abused, etc.

I’d like to believe it, but I don’t. The domestic violence establishment is far too entrenched in its narrative and its funding to all of a sudden passively admit to the fact that DV is not a gendered phenomenon. My skepticism was only encouraged when Lynch said this:

“And while the brunt of sexual and domestic violence is borne disproportionately by women and LGBT individuals, make no mistake: it is an affront to us all, threatening the integrity of our communities and violating the dignity of our fellow citizens.”

Hmm. Maybe she was referring to injury rates, in which case she’s correct. All the same, her remark sounds suspiciously like more of the same old narrative of male perpetration and female victimization. Then we turn to the “snapshot” of the DOJ guidance that instructs law enforcement officials thus:

Recognize and assess biases, assumptions and stereotypes about victims.

Treat all victims with respect and employ interviewing tactics that encourage a victim to participate and provide facts about the incident.

Investigate sexual assault or domestic violence complaints thoroughly and effectively.

Appropriately classify reports of sexual assault or domestic violence.

Refer victims to appropriate services.

Properly identify the assailant in domestic violence incidents.

Hold officers who commit sexual assault or domestic violence accountable.

Maintain, review and act upon data regarding sexual assault and domestic violence.

Hmm. Not a word in there about gender neutrality. Not a word about recognizing that men are as likely to be victims of DV as are women. Not a word about the fact that essentially all the training received by law enforcement officials to date has misrepresented the reality of DV, with particular emphasis on men as perpetrators and women as victims.

So how is it that the guidance from Attorney General Lynch is going to correct the massively anti-male narrative that’s been peddled by the DV establishment to everyone, including police, without ever mentioning it? I think I know the answer. I think the answer is that the new DoJ guidance has no intention of setting the record straight, of finally treating male victims of DV the way female victims have been treated, of training officers to look at scenes of DV dispassionately and with knowledge based in the long-known science on DV.

Why do I think that? The guidance comes in response to this letter addressed to AG Lynch, dated July 6, 2015. It came to her with the imprimatur of 88 organizations, not one of which to my knowledge has even minimal bona fides as an honest purveyor of facts about DV. So, there’s the American Association of University Women, Hollaback!, the Feminist Majority Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Organization for Women, the Women’s Law Project and of course many, many more.

Has any one of those organizations ever mentioned that women commit DV as often as men do? Has any one of those organizations gone to bat for male victims of DV? Has any one of those organizations criticized existing policies that are radically skewed against male victims, providing essentially no services for them? Has any one of those organizations ever admitted that the gendered narrative about DV is outright false and has been known to be so for over 40 years? No, they have not. But once again they’re being permitted by the Obama Administration to guide national policy on an issue AG Lynch calls “a heinous crime.”

So, while the first sentence of the BuzzFeed article claims the DoJ’s guidance is “designed to prevent gender bias in law enforcement’s approach to domestic violence and sexual assault cases,” the letter to AG Lynch refers to DV throughout as “gender-based” violence. It’s not. We know it’s not. But the narrative remains and the Obama Administration is making policy based on it.

Indeed, according to the letter that spurred the issuance of the guidance, it’s not male victims of DV who are discriminated against. No, the fact that there is essentially no funding for services for them and the fact that police have been for decades trained to view men as perpetrators and women as victims are not the letter’s idea of gender bias that needs addressing. The letter’s sole focus is women’s victimization. Male victims? The letter never mentions their existence.

We believe that current criminal justice reform efforts should encompass and build upon the work the Department has already undertaken to combat gender bias and should address the fact that women, who make up the vast majority of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, face discriminatory police practices.

Really? Like what?

Systemic problems in policing domestic violence and sexual assault — such as the failure to address and prevent officers’ acts of domestic violence and sexual assault and the failure to enforce laws criminalizing such violence by private individuals — can violate civil and human rights because they are often rooted in discriminatory attitudes about women, as well as about people of color, immigrants, LGBT people, people living with disabilities, those living in poverty, and other communities.  

Discrimination by police in the DV arena is almost exclusively visited on men. I’ve read training materials that instructed police to arrest the man in every situation, even when both he and the woman admitted that she had attacked and struck him. It’s called white-knighting, i.e. when the man rides to the rescue of the damsel in distress whose assailant is almost always another man. And one of the main reasons there aren’t more complaints of DV to police departments by men is that they assume they’ll be the ones arrested, irrespective of the facts.

As to “the failure to address and prevent officers’ acts of domestic violence…,” there’s no evidence offered that this constitutes a problem of any significant magnitude. Of course, what the DoJ does know, because its Bureau of Justice Statistics reports the fact, is that when the police kill unarmed citizens, 98% of the victims are men.

Now, it’s unquestionably true that, if police officers shield other officers from the consequences of any crime, including DV, that itself may be criminal and the practice should end. But the letter’s “evidence” for the proposition that the police discriminate against women when DV is claimed is flimsy at best and its willingness to ignore the across-the-board discrimination against male victims a moral outrage.

That it does so under the rubric of ending gender bias would be horrifying if we weren’t already familiar with the intellectual dishonesty of the DV establishment.

The guidance should also provide resources that law enforcement officials can reference in developing policies, protocols, and trainings, and in ensuring that existing practices comply with the law and incorporate current, evidence-based research on effective policing. Doing so would help ensure that law enforcement policies and practices are free of gender stereotypes and gender bias.

They don’t mean it for an instant. The letter, like the guidance issued by AG Lynch is more of the same on the DV front — ignoring male victims and imposing increasingly draconian policies on men accused by women of DV.

That’s long been the policy of the United States government. Amazingly, it just got worse.


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