Uniform approach to dometic violence enforcement called for

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(Host) A leading lawmaker is calling for a more uniform approach to domestic violence enforcement in Vermont.

Currently, police can use their discretion in making arrests.

But the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says the state may need a new policy to handle domestic abuse, following a recent state Supreme Court ruling.

VPR’s Lynne McCrea reports

(McCrea) The high court said last week that a state trooper did not have a special duty to arrest a man in a domestic violence complaint.

According to the lawsuit filed by a woman who was assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, the trooper came to an apartment in Franklin County and saw marks on the woman’s face. But the trooper did not arrest the former boyfriend, who was in the apartment at the time.

The boyfriend was arrested a week later, convicted of domestic abuse and sexual assault and given a sentence of 20 to 45 years.

In responding to domestic abuse calls, troopers follow Vermont’s pro-arrest policy , as opposed to a mandatory arrest policy .

Bennington County Senator Dick Sears is Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He says he would consider legislation to create a mandatory arrest policy.

(Sears) "We need uniform policies. And if in fact it varies county to county in how domestic violence is treated by law enforcement. Then we would have to look at things like mandatory arrest."

(McCrea) In studying the issue, Sears says the Judiciary Committee has seen inconsistencies in the way counties handle domestic abuse incidents.

(Sears) "We have found that and it’s part of the overall looking at this whole issue of domestic violence, that some counties deal with things in a different manner than others."

(McCrea) Sears says police training has improved and that it’s critical to continue training in how to best handle domestic abuse calls.

For VPR news, I’m Lynne McCrea.

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