Domestic violence victim advocate weighs in on cases involving law enforcement, military members

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 7:44 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Following the arrest of a Savannah Police officer this week on domestic violence-related charges WTOC spoke with victims advocates about cases that involve military and law enforcement members and what makes them more dangerous in some instances.

WTOC requested the arrest report from Chatham County Police, since they’re the agency investigating the domestic violence allegations involving now ex-Savannah Police officer Keith Roland.

And while we’re waiting on that to learn more about the case investigators are building, I sat down with Safe Shelter Executive Director Cheryl Branch to talk about her experiences helping spouses of police officers in domestic violence situations.

“It’s already a bad situation, I think it just makes it that much more difficult,” Safe Shelter Exec. Director Cheryl Branch said.

Branch says in her experience, she’s seen members of law enforcement use their knowledge and training against their partner to keep them from reaching out for help.

“The abuser convinces the victim all the reasons she can’t tell anybody, and he knows everybody, he plays golf with with the judges. You know, the whole bit,” Branch said.

Branch says combat training and the presence of guns in the home could also escalate an already dangerous situation.

“You’ve got more of that just by virtue of the job they have.”

In any case of domestic violence, a victim can apply for a temporary protective order, which Branch says gives the victim separation from the abuser.

“However, if the respondent violates the protective order, then it can become a criminal matter and become aggravated stalking.”

Branch added “I don’t want anybody to perceive this as a slam. The man involved in this case, this was a choice that he made. And it would be my guess that he would have made the same choice if he were a bricklayer or a banker, in any other profession.”

Branch says so far this year, her agency has helped about 300 victims apply for temporary protective orders.