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Love and Honor Betrayed

Nicki Fellenzer

Let me preface this article by saying that I have the utmost respect for law enforcement officers. I happen to be married to one – a federal police officer with honesty, integrity and moral character. I also have a number of friends who are cops as well, and I love each and every one of them. They are brave, honorable men and women – a credit to their profession. This is an article that is close to my heart, because I’m thankful every day that I’m married to a good, solid, courageous, upstanding police officer, who knows his bounds, who abides by the law and who has respect for it.

I was going to write about an outstanding reading experience I had a couple of weeks ago, and then I ran across this news report today, which forced me to put my Harry Potter accolades aside.

The report is about cops – corrupt, violent, criminal thugs with guns, authority and a penchant for brutality. The issue received national attention a few months ago with Tacoma, WA Police Chief David Brame pulled a gun on his estranged wife and shot her in front of their two children in cold blood, before taking his own life. As much as we would like to think that Brame was an aberration, a brutal, repulsive vicious scum who somehow fell through the cracks, according to Anne O’Dell, a retired police sergeant from San Diego, who worked as the domestic violence coordinator for the police department, domestic violence in the home is not uncommon.

Several studies have found that 40 percent of the families of police officers experience domestic abuse, compared to 10 percent of the civilian population. A House of Representatives report states that “In testimony before the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families during the 102nd Congress, Dr. Leanor B. Johnson (Family Studies, Arizona State University) stated that 40 percent of police officers reported that in the last six months prior to the survey they had behaved violently towards their spouse or children. In another survey, approximately 41 percent of police officers reported marital conflicts involving physical aggression during a conflict during the previous year.”

What’s the answer, according to the enemies of self-defense? A touchy feely combination of banning the accused from having firearms, restraining orders and shelter recommendations. Well, guess what, ladies? It ain’t gonna work!

According to the National Center for State Courts, laws requiring domestic abusers to give up their guns have had little effect on police officers. Why?

“Penny Harrington, Director of the National Center for Women and Policing reports that the limited effect of the law was due to actions taken by criminal justice officials to get around the law. Charges are quietly reduced so the arrested officer can keep his job and his gun. Other instances include police officers convicted of domestic violence appealing to their state’s pardon board so they could resume their careers as armed police officers. Some cases include officers who lost their guns and had their convictions expunged by local judges. The net result is that few officers nationally have lost their guns for domestic violence, even when convicted.”

And why not?

It’s not difficult to imagine how hard it is for a police officer to believe that the guy to whom he or she entrusts his or her life to every single day goes home at night and beats the snot out of his wife. Additionally, O'Dell says, any officer who would report his partner would be labeled a snitch.

And it goes even deeper than that, according to O’Dell. When you entrust your life to a fellow police officer, there exists a certain loyalty factor. "So we're really ready to believe him when he says, 'She's a bitch. She's making life miserable for me,'" she says.

These are professionally trained abusers. They are intimidating, violent, manipulative and trained to use their bodies as weapons. They are many times protected by their co-workers, revered by many who rely on them for their safety and trained in the fine intricacies of the law. They are authority figures, who know how to circumvent the law. They know the locations of the shelters in the area. They are police officers, whose word will have more weight in court than their victims – even when that word is absurd beyond all belief! Tacoma Chief David Brame had accused his wife Crystal of violence. Even bruises can be blamed on the injured, says O’Dell.

Another victim recalls, "I ran into his fists. And it was just, he said, 'It was the strangest thing I'd ever seen. Why would she do this to herself?' "

My husband and I have discussed at length the mentality that leads to a higher domestic violence rate among police officers. His theory – from a cop’s point of view – is that as a police officer, you begin to feel powerful. You begin to feel your authority. You begin to feel like a super hero for keeping the streets safe from criminals, and you feel justified in using violent measures to stop them. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is that power, he believes corrupts a number of Law Enforcement Officers into mindless criminals at home.

My theory is the psychological opposite. I believe the stress of the job and the frequent futility of catching an alleged criminal only to see him set free on a technicality could cause an officer to bring that stress home and take it out on his innocent family. Feeling impotent on the job, leaves him with only one option to remove the sense of futility: feeling powerful at home.

But no matter what the reasons, the crime remains the same. It is a violent betrayal of marital vows, of love between two people and of the trust between man and wife. It leaves the victim feeling even more helpless to stop the abuse. You can’t call the police. He is the police. You can’t hide in a shelter. He has a working knowledge of the shelters in your area. And if he loses his job due to a conviction in court, you are in even more danger, as he will figure he has nothing more to lose now that he has lost his badge and his gun.

So what do you do when the very man who promised to love and cherish you, brutalizes you day after excruciating day?

What do you do if that man is a law enforcement officer – part of the team that is supposed to be a source of protection, not pain?

You do what you can to survive. You use the most effective tools of self defense, and train to use them effectively. Those of you who think I’m advocating murdering law enforcement officers are dead wrong -- I'm advocating protecting yourself from a ruthless batterer, a criminal who just happens to be part of the protected class.

Anyone who tells you that using a firearm should be your last resort is not your friend. No friend would ever advocate you endangering your life in favor of your abuser. No friend would ever advise you to use a piece of paper signed by a judge as a substitute for a viable tool of self-defense. Any friend who would tell you to use the system instead of relying on yourself for protection has a political agenda. While the system is in place to protect you, many times it doesn’t.

It didn’t protect Crystal Brame.

It didn’t protect Cindy Cusano, whose husband, Fort Lauderdale police officer Danny Rodriguez killed her in a murder-suicide in 1999.

And chances are, if you take no responsibility for your own safety, you will wind up in a similar situation.

No, I’m not advocating killing police officers. I’m advocating using lethal force to defend yourself against thugs, who just happen to carry a badge and a gun. No real friend would tell you otherwise.

Nicki Fellenzer

Nicki is a US Army veteran, who spent nearly four years in Frankfurt, Germany on active duty at the American Forces Network. She is a former radio DJ and news anchor and a Featured Writer and Newslinks Director for Keepandbeararms.com. She is also a contributing editor to the National Rifle Association's newest monthly magazine, Women's Outlook and writes occasionally for the Libertarian Party. She resides in Virginia with her family. We are also proud to have Nicki as regular contributor to Armed Females of America.


Copyright © 2003 by Armed Females of America. All rights reserved. Permission to redistribute this article for noncommercial purposes is hereby granted, provided that it is reproduced unedited, in its entirety and appropriate credit given.

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