The murder of a rookie Arlington, Tx., police officer dispatched to take a report on a domestic assault highlights what law enforcement experts and victim advocates know well: Such calls are among the most dangerous for officers, says the Dallas Morning News. It is not unusual for police agencies to dispatch only one officer when it is believed the abuser is no longer there, as was the case in Arlington on Tuesday night. “But the problem is, you never know on any call,” said Harvey Hedden of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. “Any call for service has a potential for danger.”
For officer Jillian Smith, 24, that deadly danger came within minutes of her arrival at an apartment. The fact that Barnes Samuel Nettles, 38, returned and fatally shot Smith and his ex-girlfriend, Kimberly Carter, 29, before killing himself is a tragic reminder that domestic violence cases are not isolated occurrences with a defined beginning and end. “People think that domestic violence is, ‘He hit me and then it’s over,’ and ‘Then he slapped me and then it’s over,’ ” said Jan Edgar Langbein of the Dallas-based Genesis Women’s Shelter. “What we know is this is a continuum. This is a continuum of violence. And he thinks and does the unthinkable and the unexpected.” Ed Nowicki is an expert police trainer and former Chicago officer. He prefers a multiple-officer response in any domestic disturbance. But based on the preliminary information, it appears the handling of the Arlington case was in line with accepted practices.