Engram Makes All Men Bad GuysIn her column of June 6 on...

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June 19, 1993

Engram Makes All Men Bad Guys

In her column of June 6 on domestic violence, Sara Engram, like most liberal journalists, has accepted as fact the latest feminist, anti-men report from Mayor Kurt Schmoke's Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee.

Did it ever occur to Ms. Engram that these folks have a stake in exaggerating the problem?

It is just not that simple to say that women are the victims and men are the criminals, so put the men in jail. Then, to blame the police is really way off base.

But why not? Most police are men. Let's make all men out to be the bad guys!

Ms. Engram writes that when it comes to writing police reports for domestic violence calls in Baltimore that the police must have misplaced their pens. This is grossly unfair to the vast majority of officers who perform their duties conscientiously. Another liberal feminist attack on men?

This committee has skewered some facts, or at least not put them in proper perspective. Contrary to what Ms. Engram writes (assuming it came from the committee report), the majority of 911 calls to police do not result in a written report.

The majority of those calls are orally coded by the officers. These include many types of calls. Many of these calls that are dispatched as domestic violence turn out to be something else once the officer arrives on the scene. Many of them are simply family arguments that do not involve violent behavior. Not all of the 80,000 domestic violence calls per year (only 8 percent of total police calls, according to the report) truly involve violence.

Ms. Engram states that because only one in five of these 80,000 calls results in a written report that the police are shirking their duties.

You think that's an attack on men? Well, listen to this one. Ms. Engram quoted another statistic which states that of the cases in which a written report was filed, arrests were made in only 3 percent of the cases even though in three-quarters of those cases there were visible injuries -- evidence that a crime had been committed.

Surely the police must be insensitive to women for not arresting all these bad men! Did it ever occur to the committee or Ms. Engram thatthe perpetrator may have left the scene before police arrived for fear of arrest?

In most cases it is the decision of the victim whether or not to arrest and/or prosecute the abuser. If the victim is insistent that no prosecution occur, most officers will accede to those wishes.

In all but the most serious cases an officer has no authority to make a warrantless arrest. If a weapon is involved, that drastically changes the officer's authority on warrantless arrests. A weapon could be anything from a gun or knife to a chair or a screwdriver.

Most cases do not involve weapons, however. They are simple common assaults that do not allow the officer to make an arrest at the scene. An arrest may only be made if the victim obtains a warrant forthe abuser.

And therein lies a tale. Arrest rates are low because the victims fail to cooperate with the police, not the other way around.

One officer I know pleaded and cajoled a victim for 45 minutes before she agreed to allow the officer to go to her house and arrest the father of her two children and of her unborn baby (fetal tissue, for you liberals) for beating her about the face with a metal tool.

The woman then refused to appear in court three times, and the case was finally placed on an inactive court docket. The defense attorney told the judge that the officer made up the story just to make an arrest. The evil man escaped punishment because the police made the whole thing up. Right?

In another case a woman was burned with a hot iron by her live-in paramour. The officer, not the victim, wrote a warrant and had the offending male arrested.

Once in court the victim had a change of heart because she did not want to see him go to jail. Luckily, the defense attorney was also a woman, so a deal was worked out where he received six months. But it was close. The point is that these women, like many others, allow the system to fail them by not cooperating.

This report apparently tries to make the argument that domestic violence cases do not receive the same serious attention as drug cases. To bolster their case the committee writes that 10 percent of the homicides in the city are caused by domestic violence. What they don't say is that the other 90 percent are drug-related. What does that say about priorities?

Now, I am not trying to belittle domestic violence. There is no excuse for violent behavior under any circumstances. But I am attempting to put the problem in its proper perspective. There are many socio-economic reasons why someone would not want her abusive partner prosecuted.

Ms. Engram denigrates Baltimore for its low conviction rate with a comparison to the record in San Diego. One cannot compare apples and oranges, however. Baltimore is not San Diego. Baltimore is an older, poorer, less-educated city than San Diego.

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