Patty Prickett, who formerly worked on domestic violence cases for the Los Angeles Police Department, grew increasingly frustrated with a legal system ill-equipped to handle the problem's complexity, says Mother Jones magazine in a package of stories on domestic violence. The situation was highlighted by this week’s Supreme Court decision in a Colorado case limiting police department responsibility for enforcing restraining orders won by women against abusers. A similar case in Los Angeles helps show that what began as a scrappy, grassroots effort of women’s advocates has become a bureaucratized entity allied so closely with the criminal justice system that it has sacrificed much of its ability to critique that system and push for reform, says Mother Jones. Ellen Pence of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, Mn. says that, “instead of us advocating for what women needed from the system, we started advocating the system to women.”
Prickett says some police inaction is due to the belief of officers that “you never know which ones are going to wind up killing someone.” Prickett’s reply: “But there are signs, and once you see them, you have to act, and you have to be aggressive. Otherwise women are going to keep on getting hurt and getting killed.” After Prickett took her position at the LAPD under a federal grant, a detective told her dismissively that “rich men don't beat their wives.” Prickett wrote manuals for officers, passed out pocket-size how-to-identify-a-batterer guides, and went out on more than a thousand domestic violence calls.