BCoPD of­fi­cers par­tic­i­pate in train­ing on cor­re­la­tions be­tween an­i­mal abuse and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence

The Avenue News - - POLICE -

At a re­cent sem­i­nar on an­i­mal abuse, mem­bers of the Bal­ti­more County Po­lice De­part­ment, the Bal­ti­more County An­i­mal Ser­vices and vet­eri­nar­i­ans met with var­i­ous groups to dis­cuss the prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with an­i­mal abuse and the cor­re­la­tions it has to fur­ther vi­o­lent be­hav­ior, ar­gu­ing for the stricter en­force­ment and stronger laws.

Dur­ing the day­long ses­sion, at­ten­dees were re­minded that, in some cases, an­i­mal abuse is a pre­cur­sor to do­mes­tic abuse. Of­ten­times the vic­tim in a do­mes­tic case is fear­ful of leav­ing the abu­sive sit­u­a­tion be­cause there is a pet at home. The abuser threat­ens the vic­tim by threat­en­ing to harm or kill the pet if the vic­tim leaves.

An­other is­sue is the lack of shel­ters for the pets of the vic­tims. That is start­ing to change. So­cial work­ers found that the vic­tims will leave their home if they know there is a safe place for their pets. We for­get that pets are part of the fam­ily and are loved. Find­ing shel­ter for house­hold pets can be­come an­other dif­fi­cult fac­tor in the de­ci­sion to leave an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship.

An­i­mal abuse has been found to be a pre­cur­sor to vi­o­lence against other peo­ple. When in­ves­ti­ga­tors looked into the past of se­rial killers, they found that an­i­mal abuse is of­ten the start of their crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity. Re­cent Texas se­rial shooter, Devin Kel­ley, was court-mar­tialed in 2012 and sen­tenced to a year in prison for do­mes­tic as­sault on his step­son. He sub­se­quently re­ceived a dis­hon­or­able dis­charge by the Air force. Kel­ley was ar­rested in 2014 for an­i­mal abuse af­ter tor­ment­ing a dog by punch­ing, hit­ting and throw­ing the de­fense­less an­i­mal. Other se­rial killers fol­low much the same path; they abuse an­i­mals and then pro­ceed to abus­ing and killing peo­ple.

Our of­fi­cers learned that if a child is found abus­ing an­i­mals, there may be some­thing caus­ing the vi­o­lent and cruel be­hav­ior. Most likely there is phys­i­cal abuse in the home, ei­ther of the child or an­other fam­ily mem­ber. The child copes by copy­ing the same be­hav­ior as the abuser. How­ever, stud­ies have also shown that sex­ual abuse of a child also of­ten leads the child to en­gage in the abuse of an­i­mals. Help­ing these chil­dren at an early age may pre­vent the es­ca­la­tion of vi­o­lent be­hav­ior and fu­ture tragedies.

Pros­e­cu­tors at the con­fer­ence are work­ing with po­lice to go beyond the nor­mal ques­tions when han­dling a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence call. Of- fi­cers were told to in­quire fur­ther re­gard­ing chil­dren and pets. With this in­for­ma­tion, our of­fi­cers can make the nec­es­sary calls to the De­part­ment of So­cial Ser­vices. Of­fi­cers can find out if there is an agency that can take the an­i­mals out of the home and place them in a safe en­vi­ron­ment while the chil­dren go with their abused par­ent. If the vic­tim feels the chil­dren and pets will be safe, they will most likely leave with the of­fi­cer and be taken to a safe house.

This is one of many con­fer­ences that Bal­ti­more County Po­lice at­tend to fur­ther their knowl­edge. As an of­fi­cer and pro­fes­sional, it is im­por­tant to keep up with the lat­est trends in crime preven­tion. Bal­ti­more County Po­lice con­stantly strive to make Bal­ti­more County a safe and com­fort­able place to live and work.

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