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Another DV Myth: DV Situations and Danger To Police

Last week the mayor of Milwaukee was injured while intervening between a drunk man and his daughter's grandmother.1 ABC's Milwaukee affiliate, WISN, followed up with a story that asserted, "domestic violence situations are, by far, the number one reason that police officers are wounded on duty," and quoting "domestic violence experts" to back up this bit of received wisdom.2

There's just one problem with this claim – researchers who studied this very question3 found it wasn't true. They found that domestic disturbance ranked fourth in the ratio of assaults to calls for service, but only fifth in the ratio of injuries to calls for service. In other words, the rate of injury from domestic disturbance calls was lower than the rate from four other types of calls.

By no means is domestic violence "by far, the number one reason that police officers are wounded on duty."

As for Mayor Barrett's injuries, It makes far more sense to attribute them to the fact that one of the participants in the dispute was drunk, and invest in solving that problem. Instead, WISN sought out "experts" who have a financial stake in promoting themselves as the solution regardless of the research. And surprise, surprise, those "experts" used this story "as an example of how 'possibly lethal' and extremely dangerous domestic disputes can be".

So add yet another myth to the list in RADAR's report "Fifty Domestic Violence Myths"4.

Please contact WISN, TV 12, Milwaukee at and tell them that their failure to properly research the story only serves to promote unwarranted fear among law enforcement officers, thereby causing them to place themselves and the public in greater danger by needlessly escalating otherwise resolvable disputes. Tell them to educate themselves about domestic violence myths by reading our report at http://mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-50-DV-Myths.pdf before their next article on the topic promotes yet another harmful falsehood.



2 "Experts Say Barrett Walked Into 'Lethal' Situation", WISN, TV 12, Milwaukee, Wisc., http://www.wisn.com/news/20470411/detail.html

3 Relative Contribution of Domestic Violence to Assault and Injury of Police Officers, Hirschel, Dean, & Lumb, Justice Quarterly, Vol. 11 #1, March 1994, pp. 99-117, http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=150233

4 RADAR, "Fifty Domestic Violence Myths", http://mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-50-DV-Myths.pdf

Date of RADAR Release: August 26, 2009

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org