Support for Domestic Violence Victims in Chicago Is Looking Grim
A few weeks ago, we wrote about a new law in Illinois that would require hairdressers, barbers, and so on to take courses on domestic violence in case their clients were to confide in them about abuse.
Laws like this are a great way to educate more people about the signs of domestic violence, and the resources available to victims. Once a case is reported to police, however, the laws must be enforced and further action must be taken to stop domestic violence from happening in the city. Unfortunately, according to a recent investigation, if a police officer is committing domestic violence, the law isn’t being enforced like it should.
Over 90% of Domestic Violence Complaints against Chicago Cops Not Followed Up On
The Chicago Police Department responds to over 500 calls about domestic violence each day. Sometimes, a few of those 500 calls involve a complaint in which a Chicago police officer is the alleged abuser.
This information, revealed recently by Chicago’s ABC 7 I-Team, is not all that surprising. After all, Chicago cops are people, too, and they have domestic entanglements and arguments just like everyone else.
It’s what happened after the initial calls that has people in an uproar. The I-Team found that approximately 5,280 domestic abuse complaints have been filed against officers since 2000, which averages out to just less than one call a day.
What happened to these police officers that were accused? In most cases, absolutely nothing. A stunning 92% of the complaints led to what’s known as a Code 600 – meaning that no disciplinary action was taken.
Now, most likely a number of those complaints were not credible. However, 92% is an awfully high number, and it seems to indicate that Chicago cops can get away with domestic violence accusations without any action being taken against them.
It sends a chilling message to victims of domestic violence, and certainly seems unfair to everyday citizens who are brought to court, or even convicted of domestic violence, after a false accusation. Our state’s domestic violence woes don’t end there, either.
It Just Gets Worse: $9 Million to Domestic Violence Programs Left Out of Illinois Budget
So if a victim is afraid to turn to law enforcement to get out of a dangerous situation, where can they go? Fortunately, our state has multiple hotlines, shelters, and agencies that work tirelessly to help the victims of domestic violence move into a safe environment. Unfortunately, these programs do not have the resources they need.
Programs to help domestic violence victims have always been underfunded, but a surprise came in mid-February when Illinois officials finally told domestic violence programs in the state that their funding had been left out of the six-month state budget plan that started July 1.
How much was left out? $9 million. That’s money that was supposed to help support 62 different programs. Dozens of layoffs and cuts had to be made, and even more domestic violence victims will not get the help they need due to the cuts to funding.
Why? No one really knows. Governor Rauner blames “confusion.” Try telling that to the victims who are on a waiting list because there are no case managers to help them.
Despite a lack of funding, these programs haven’t shut down. Work is still being done to combat domestic violence throughout the state. Many of the shelters and programs are taking up fundraising efforts in order to make up for the resources that were cut by the state. As a citizen, making donations, as well as contacting your representatives, will surely be appreciated by programs that are scrambling to raise money to help victims.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.