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Police face extra risk responding to domestic violence calls

Posted at 6:51 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 21:24:07-05

Domestic violence calls, like the one early Monday morning, can be some of the most dangerous calls for police.

Former Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said what makes these calls so dangerous is the limited-to-no-information police have when arriving on scene.

“Very frequently it’s a third party that says, ‘I hear this going on,’” said Burbank. “Then you know even less because you’re not talking to someone in the house.”

Police could be showing up in the middle of an intense fight without knowing who each person is and what the personal relationships involve.

“Anyone who is willing to perpetrate violence against someone they love and care for is really a dangerous person for that third party police officer to step in the middle of,” said Burbank.

Unfortunately, domestic violence calls are all too common for officers. That’s something that hasn’t changed since Burbank retired around five years ago.

“The challenge that we have is this falls to a police problem, and it’s not a police problem,” said Burbank.

It’s problem with society, said Burbank, and of health and well-being. The biggest problem for Burbank, though, is when guns are drawn — something he said has become a first resort instead of the final straw.

“I never want a firearm to be used except for those last minute movements where you have to pull it out and use it because there is no alternative, because that is your last resource,” said Burbank.

The lack of confidence in police over time and officers losing faith in the public is something Burbank sees growing over the years.

“There’s horrible circumstances on both sides of this issue that we need to get beyond,” said Burbank.

Most domestic violence problems start small, sometimes with oppression and manipulation before they ever turn to violence, said Burbank.

He hopes if anyone feels like they might be experiencing domestic violence, that they will seek help.

Domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233