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NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 41 Issue: 9 Dated: (September 1993) Pages: 141-143
J Hoffman
Date Published
3 pages
Prosecuting attorneys in Harford County (Md.) are training police officers to prepare domestic assault cases in case the abused wife later refuses to testify after initially seeking prosecution.
The program began following a case that revealed that the victim's testimony is not necessary in many cases. The training focuses on how to obtain evidence beginning with the call to the police 911 center. In many cases, call- takers and dispatchers can hear sounds of the assault in the background or can hear the suspect in the background making threats. After such an arrest, police officers should interview the communications personnel and obtain a tape recording of the 911 call if appropriate. The first officers responding to the scene should carefully note statements made by the suspect. The victim and the dwelling should also be photographed carefully. Officers should list all possible witnesses, including friends and neighbors and should seize common household objects used in the assault. A lengthy interview with the victim can also be helpful to the prosecution. The police report should document everything, using continuation sheets if necessary. Police officers should also follow victims through courthouse hallways and into courtrooms. Using these approaches, Assistant States Attorney Jeff Michael estimates that his office wins 75 percent of the cases it files, whether or not the victim testifies. The other 25 percent usually lack other witnesses or circumstantial evidence. Other suggestions