Nashville police dropped their investigations into domestic violence complaints at an increasingly high rate during the past four years, possible fallout from the department’s focus on improving crime-fighting statistics, The Tennessean reports. The newspaper did a statistical analysis of domestic violence complaints, had retired detectives make a spot check of cases, and interviewed former police officers. In 2005, police cleared 211 cases without making an arrest. One year later, the number jumped to 3,866, and by 2009, it was 5,600.
Police cited the victims’ lack of cooperation for not pursuing those arrests, but state law says that cannot be an excuse if there is other evidence or probable cause. At least two victims of domestic violence told the newspaper they wanted to press charges, but detectives told them the cases had already been closed – because the victim refused to cooperate. The ex-detectives cited to the newspaper evidence that could have been used to support an arrest. At times, officers cleared cases simply because they couldn’t reach victims by phone. Other times, they cleared cases when victims didn’t respond to a letter sent to their home. The department says it would make an arrest if there was other evidence, but added that determining probable cause is “highly subjective.” Said former detective Mark Wynn: “You can’t just walk in and ask them to make a decision in five seconds that is going to impact them the rest of their lives.”