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  #1  
Old 12-17-2012, 10:12 AM
tdn tdn is offline
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Stupid cop

I'm not really sure what forum this belongs in, but let's start it here and see what interesting journey it takes.

I'll try telling this by deidentifying the parties involved as much as possible.

A friend is a psychologist and works at a home for mental patients. It is not a business, it is a home. The residents are, among other things, schizophrenic, bipolar, and... well, some are schizophrenic. I really don't know the details. But they are clearly unable to live on their own.

The other night my friend got a call from someone on staff that night. One patient was antagonizing another. The staffer was reporting it to my friend, when the one patient hit the other, knocking her to the floor.

My friend said to call 911 and have that patient arrested. Violence in that home is not tolerated and is an arrestable offense. So the cops arrived, but refused to make an arrest. The one that my friend talked to kept saying that there was nothing they could do, being that the incident happened in a business, not a home. The cop insisted on this, despite my friend telling him again and again that it was a home, not a business.

The cop also refused to arrest the patient because there were no witnesses. Apparently the staffer didn't count. He informed her that only cops can be witnesses. And assaults can only happen in homes.

Yes, you read that right. My friend even verified that. She asked if she was free and clear to assault a random stranger on the street, and if there were no cops around, it would be impossible for her to be arrested. And since it would not be in someone's home, even a cop couldn't be a witness to it.

Wow, who knew? Either I have a serious misunderstanding of the law, or that was one stoopid and lazy cop who needs some serious unpaid time off.
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  #2  
Old 12-17-2012, 10:20 AM
phouka phouka is offline
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Couldn't arrest someone because it was a business? So, if someone pulled a gun and held up the place, they couldn't arrest the robber?

Either the police officer was really, really confused, or he was dicking around. I suggest a call to the precinct. His superior can order more training or rip him a new one as necessary.
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  #3  
Old 12-17-2012, 10:25 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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Just guessing here. Perhaps there was a lack of evidence, and the cop felt it didn't qualify as a domestic violence situation. It's the lack of evidence part I find puzzling if there were witnesses. If it's just one party accusing the other with no witnesses with no visible injuries I could understand a cop not wanting to make an arrest.
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  #4  
Old 12-17-2012, 10:32 AM
tdn tdn is offline
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It could be that there was no evidence, despite there being a witness. My thought is that the cop didn't want to have to deal with a mentally ill person. Lazy, IOW.
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  #5  
Old 12-17-2012, 10:38 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Originally Posted by phouka View Post
Couldn't arrest someone because it was a business? So, if someone pulled a gun and held up the place, they couldn't arrest the robber?

Either the police officer was really, really confused, or he was dicking around. I suggest a call to the precinct. His superior can order more training or rip him a new one as necessary.
Yeah, more retraining is in order. Or the cop should be fired, because that's a really, really stupid thing to say.
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  #6  
Old 12-17-2012, 10:40 AM
Quercus Quercus is offline
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IMHO, someone at the home (your friend, the home's manager, someone like that) should be calling the precinct today to talk to some kind of supervisor, so everyone can be very clear on what should happen in the next situation like that. With a letter following that, laying out in writing what everyone agreed on. If the lazy cop gets yelled at by his boss, well that's a nice side effect, but the main thing is to get it right next time. Of course, if the cop supervisor isn't helpful, then the next calls are to municipal elected officials.
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  #7  
Old 12-17-2012, 10:56 AM
Vinyl Turnip Vinyl Turnip is online now
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No idea about the cop's logic, but even if it's located in someone's home, doesn't the fact that your friend is working there imply that it's a (home-based) business? Or is this strictly a volunteer/non-profit endeavor?
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  #8  
Old 12-17-2012, 11:00 AM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by Vinyl Turnip View Post
No idea about the cop's logic, but even if it's located in someone's home, doesn't the fact that your friend is working there imply that it's a (home-based) business? Or is this strictly a volunteer/non-profit endeavor?
I really don't know. But since the incident happened between residents, I would think that it counts as a home. It's certainly a private residence.
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  #9  
Old 12-17-2012, 11:08 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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Originally Posted by tdn View Post
It could be that there was no evidence, despite there being a witness. My thought is that the cop didn't want to have to deal with a mentally ill person. Lazy, IOW.
Did either of the two patients ask the cop for an arrest or was it just your friend? Were they both women? Was either/both elderly or a minor? Querus has a good idea, your friend needs to know what the procedure should be. He might have been able to say the right thing which would have required the cop to act.
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  #10  
Old 12-17-2012, 11:19 AM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Did either of the two patients ask the cop for an arrest or was it just your friend? Were they both women? Was either/both elderly or a minor?
I didn't hear what went on there, I just heard one side of the phone conversation. (And bits of the cop.) It was two women, and I got the impression that the victim was old, but not really eldery.
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  #11  
Old 12-17-2012, 11:26 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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A report of a lazy cop wouldn't surprise many people. But in this case perhaps he's just familiar with the procedures and knew this wasn't going anywhere. I'd think they'd just take the accused to a hospital anyway. The cop should have explained the procedures to your friend though. Even if he's following procedure he could be more helpful.
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  #12  
Old 12-17-2012, 11:41 AM
Enkel Enkel is offline
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It is possible the victim was refusing to press assault charges (w/out a victim, what can the cop do?).

Some states allow law enforcement to press domestic violence charges even when the victim refuses to press charges based only on evidence the cop has seen. BUT, this would not have been a domestic violence case because they are two residents of a commercial business and not two people living together in a private home.

So, the worker may have been pushing for charges when the victim was refusing to press charges and the officer may have muddied the water by saying.... "IF they were living together.... but they're not..."
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  #13  
Old 12-17-2012, 12:09 PM
LurkerInNJ LurkerInNJ is offline
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You wouldn't be arrested for that here either. What you would be able to do is file a complaint and the other party would have to show up in court. You would only be arrested on the spot if the cops saw you throw the punch.

Are there really places where you can pick up the telephone and say someone hit you and have another person arrested?

If a group home is staffed, it is a business. If several schizophrenic and bipolar people get together and decide to rent a house and live together to save on expenses, it's a residence.
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  #14  
Old 12-17-2012, 12:21 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
A report of a lazy cop wouldn't surprise many people. But in this case perhaps he's just familiar with the procedures and knew this wasn't going anywhere. I'd think they'd just take the accused to a hospital anyway. The cop should have explained the procedures to your friend though. Even if he's following procedure he could be more helpful.
I was wondering about that. Would he make her sit in jail all night then return her the next morning? It could be that there was really nothing to do about it. But if that were the case he didn't explain it very well.
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  #15  
Old 12-17-2012, 12:39 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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Originally Posted by LurkerInNJ View Post
You wouldn't be arrested for that here either. What you would be able to do is file a complaint and the other party would have to show up in court. You would only be arrested on the spot if the cops saw you throw the punch.

This. She should have been told that she can go to the magistrate's office and file a complaint.

ETA: I found this article on the first page of googling 'arrest for assault' that explains it. This article is specifically for Texas law, but I imagine it is the same in some other places as well, and I know that it is true for NC.

Last edited by Alice The Goon; 12-17-2012 at 12:44 PM..
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  #16  
Old 12-17-2012, 12:43 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by LurkerInNJ View Post
You wouldn't be arrested for that here either. What you would be able to do is file a complaint and the other party would have to show up in court. You would only be arrested on the spot if the cops saw you throw the punch.
Really? So the cop was right?

What if she stayed dangerous after the cop left? (As it turns out, she was pretty aggressive all weekend, but I didn't hear that she threw any more punches.)
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  #17  
Old 12-17-2012, 12:45 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by Alice The Goon View Post
ETA: I found this article on the first page of googling 'arrest for assault' that explains it. This article is specifically for Texas law, but I imagine it is the same in some other places as well, and I know that it is true for NC.
That link isn't working. Let's try it again.
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  #18  
Old 12-17-2012, 12:46 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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Originally Posted by tdn View Post
That link isn't working. Let's try it again.
I fixed it, thanks.
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  #19  
Old 12-17-2012, 12:49 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alice The Goon View Post
ETA: I found this article on the first page of googling 'arrest for assault' that explains it.
Quote:
14.03 specifically allows officers to make an arrest where they have probable cause to believe someone has committed family violence, violated a protective order, have prevented someone from placing a 911 call, assaulted a non-family member and there remains a risk of further violence towards the alleged victim, alleged sexual assaults and various other circumstances.
Bolding mine. Wouldn't that be the case here? (This is neither TX nor NC, it's MA.)
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  #20  
Old 12-17-2012, 12:51 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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Just a WAG, but there being supervision by the staff member would have mitigated that risk.
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  #21  
Old 12-17-2012, 01:05 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Good point.
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  #22  
Old 12-17-2012, 01:05 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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In MA, it looks like you can ask the police to file a complaint on your behalf, which I guess involves an arrest?, but they can decline. In which case you have to go to the clerk of court/ADA and file one yourself. It's very confusing, but I don't think that the police officer was wrong.
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  #23  
Old 12-17-2012, 01:17 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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I have no idea what the domestic violence laws are in your state. It matters greatly if BY LAW they classify a group home as a residence or a care facility.

In general this is what happens with an assault.

With a simple (non-aggregated) assault if not witnessed by the officer the parties have an opurtunity to sign complaints with the court.

If it is domestic violence the officer MAY arrest if there are no signs of injury and MUST arrest if there is a sign of injury. This will vary from state to state.

If the patient was out of control aggressive they should have sent her to the hospital. It's a medical condition not a legal matter.

Domestic violence laws can only be used in certain circumstances. I don't know how the law or precedents in that state classify group homes. But what do you think would have been accomplished? Arrest on simple assault, summons, released back to the home.

Last edited by Loach; 12-17-2012 at 01:19 PM..
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  #24  
Old 12-17-2012, 01:21 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
But what do you think would have been accomplished? Arrest on simple assault, summons, released back to the home.
Yeah, I guess it's a really sticky situation. They can't really turn her out onto the streets, and the police can't detain her indefinitely.
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  #25  
Old 12-17-2012, 02:57 PM
LurkerInNJ LurkerInNJ is offline
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Originally Posted by tdn View Post
Really? So the cop was right?

What if she stayed dangerous after the cop left? (As it turns out, she was pretty aggressive all weekend, but I didn't hear that she threw any more punches.)
Yes. I can't imagine living in a place where people are arrested on the whim of another ordinary citizen like ordering chinese take-out. You can't make a phone call and have the cops come and arrest someone on your say-so.

Here the police will respond to the call, but that's about it. Unless you are actively pounding on someone or there is overwhelming evidence that you have battered or abused another person, you aren't going to be arrested, and rightly so. If you want to file a complaint, nothing is stopping you. You can show up at the municipal court, fill out some easy paperwork, sign an affidavit and the person will have to answer the charge in court. They are mailed a summons with the charge and a date and time they must appear.
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  #26  
Old 12-17-2012, 03:09 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by LurkerInNJ View Post
Yes. I can't imagine living in a place where people are arrested on the whim of another ordinary citizen like ordering chinese take-out. You can't make a phone call and have the cops come and arrest someone on your say-so.
The more I think about it the more that makes sense. I can picture a really evil person taking advantage of that though. And I'm sure it happens.
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  #27  
Old 12-17-2012, 03:34 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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Originally Posted by tdn View Post
The more I think about it the more that makes sense. I can picture a really evil person taking advantage of that though. And I'm sure it happens.
Well in this case we are talking about a misdemeanor. If there are aggregating factors such as serious bodily injury then they will be arrested. If it a fist fight, come in to court at a later date and fight it out there.

I spoke to our domestic violence guru about the DV aspect of the case. He says here in NJ the prevailing thought is that those cohabitating in a group home would fall under the domestic violence laws. But it is not spelled out and there are no court precedents. So it is by no means settled law here. And of course it depends on the state laws where you are.
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  #28  
Old 12-17-2012, 06:57 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is online now
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OP hasn't really clarified just why this is a "home" but not a "business"? (Could not the place be both?) Are there any kind of supervisors or managers? Any staff? Any paid staff? Who is your friend the psychologist working for? Who pays him?

Also, the status of the residents is unclear. OP says they are mentally ill in one way or another, and unable to live independently. What is their legal status? Are they officially "incompetent"? Do they have guardians or conservators appointed to handle all their affairs and decisions? Does any resident even have a legal voice to make a complaint to the police or courts, or to answer to the police or courts for any complaint against them? Or can only their guardians or conservators speak for them?
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