This past week Ravalli County conducted an awareness of domestic and/or sexual violence against women. One of the best places to start is educating our local law enforcement agencies.
On August 14, 2013, I reported a domestic assault. The assault happened at my Stevensville residence. This assault was first reported to an off-duty reserve deputy. He proceeded to call the chief and inform him of my situation. The chief led me to an on-duty officer to whom I gave a detailed verbal report.
The officer and another staff member photographed my injuries. Then the officer asked me to recount my situation to him. While I was talking he took notes on a sticky-note-sized piece of paper. I went over my story quite a few times while he once-in-a-while wrote a word here or there on his little piece of paper.
Numerous times he questioned me about what happened. He stated, “I believe you because you seem upset.” When he seemed satisfied he instructed me to call SAFE after he had called them for housing for me. He gave me their number and pamphlet plus another pamphlet on victim’s compensation. I was handed an official paper to write my “account of what happened” because he said sometimes we remember better when we write it down. I left with the feeling that he was bored.
I later purchased a copy of the official police report and was appalled at what this officer had and had not written. His report of the incident was not anywhere near the ballpark of what I had reported to him.
When I first reported the incident I repeatedly told the officer that I was restrained. I repeatedly told him that I was shoved. I repeatedly told the officer that I was choked. I even laid back in the big black chair I was sitting in and showed him how I was restrained and choked. None of these things were in his official report.
I hand wrote a report of my account of the assault. When you read the officer’s little itty-bitty paragraph and read my documentation, it is like reading two completely different situations. His lack of proper reporting and his ridiculous statement that he believed me because I seemed upset demonstrates his lack of professionalism.
With all that the Missoula police officers have been going through over assaults against females not being handled properly, you would think this officer would be more careful. More careful to serve and protect.
I am truly thankful for the people at SAFE. They were extremely helpful and supportive. Without them this would have been difficult to get through. I am incredibly disappointed in this officer for his lack of care and his lack of professionalism.
Maybe the Stevensville police department should invest in a tape recorder. Obviously a few assorted words scribbled on a tiny piece of paper is not the proper way to take important notes on a serious subject.
Domestic violence is a serious issue. It should be handled with care and respect. The people at SAFE handle it as such. Ineptness at recording statements is not the proper way to help in educating and reducing this very serious issue.