Betts, Pavalock-D’Amato Support Domestic Violence Arrest Reform

Posted on May 9, 2018 by admin


HARTFORD –State Representatives Whit Betts (R-78) and Cara Pavalock D’Amato (R-77) joined fellow legislative colleagues in the Connecticut House of Representatives in supporting a dominant aggressor provision within the existing state laws dictating arrest protocol in cases of family violence.

The bill, SB 466 An Act Concerning Dual Arrests and the Training Required of Law Enforcement Personnel with Respect to Domestic Violence, requires a peace officer, in responding to a family violence complaint made by two or more opposing parties, to arrest the person the officer determines is the dominant aggressor (the person who poses the most serious ongoing threat in a situation involving a suspected family violence crime). Current state law includes a mandatory arrest provision, whereby both parties involved in the domestic dispute may be arrested.

“I’m proud to stand in strong support of this important bi-partisan legislation, which stands up for victims of domestic violence,” said Rep. Betts, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Due to the mandatory arrest provision, the dual arrest rate in the State of Connecticut is nearly three times the national average. When law enforcement is called to a domestic dispute, the dual arrest provision meant that more often than not, both the aggressor and the victim would be arrested. Not only will this measure provide law enforcement with the authority to arrest the perpetrator of violence, but also empower victims to come forward and report without fear of prosecution.”

Rep. Pavalock-D’Amato, also a co-sponsor of the bill, added, “I’m pleased to see that Connecticut has finally joined its New England neighbors in adding the dominant aggressor provision, in support of the victims who’ve had to endure abuse and suffer in silence, for fear of being arrested if they reported to law enforcement. This bill is a tremendous step in the right direction to support victims and the many young children who are traumatized by the experience of witnessing their abused parents being arrested by law enforcement.”

According to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 27% of family violence dispatch calls result in a dual arrest. Additionally, intakes as a direct result of a domestic violence arrest account for 32% of what is on the criminal docket for courts across the state, creating a huge logistical and financial burden for the state. In addition, dual arrest often decreases the victim’s safety, creates additional trauma for the victim’s children (children see a victim arrested and develop distrust of authority), raises a defense for the aggressor when the victim has been arrested and charged, and creates a larger legal Financial burdened for the victim.

The measure passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 147-1, and the state Senate earlier this week by a vote of 36-0. It was transmitted to the governor’s desk for immediate signing.