No Penalties for WI Police Ignoring Domestic Violence Response Laws


Wisconsin’s laws on how police must respond to domestic violence are among the most comprehensive in the U.S. but no one has the authority to enforce them, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. If the laws are ignored, there are no penalties. Under the law in Wisconsin and 20 other states, police must arrest domestic violence suspects regardless of the victim’s cooperation. Departments also must have written policies on how to investigate domestic violence.

Nothing guarantees they follow through. The lack of oversight allows local departments to circumvent the laws, rendering them ineffective and putting victims and the public in jeopardy. That’s what experts and legislators say Brown Deer, Wi., police did by not holding accountable Radcliffe Haughton, whose trail of domestic violence culminated in killing his estranged wife and two other women at a spa before committing suicide. “If there’s no arrest, you’re enabling behavior. This individual is only becoming more emboldened by our lack of responding appropriately,” said David Thomas of Johns Hopkins University.

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