Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

June 24, 2014

Guy Turcotte wants SOP changes to address domestic violence issues more specifically when involving officers

GLASGOW — Glasgow Police Department Chief Guy Turcotte is proposing changes to GPD’s standard operating procedure to address more specifically what should occur when one of his staff members is accused of domestic violence.

Allegations have been made against a GPD sergeant and two officers within the past few weeks, but each situation is different.

Turcotte briefed the Glasgow City Council Public Safety Committee on Monday about the concepts he has worked with City Attorney Ben Rogers to incorporate, and the two men also described the differences between emergency protective orders and domestic violence orders, as well as when circumstances call for an officer to be relieved of his firearms except when on duty.

Rogers said state law defines domestic violence as “physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, assault or infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse or assault, between family members or members of unmarried couples.”

“An emergency protective order is issued without notice to the other party, what we call ex parte,” Rogers said. “After that happens, then the court issues a summons for that party to appear and answer the charges, as to whether or not a domestic violence order should be issued. ...

“Once a judge issues an order saying that domestic violence has occurred, only after a hearing, at which the opposing parties have an opportunity to present evidence, be cross-examined, cross examine, that sort of thing – in other words, due process. Only then can a domestic violence order be issued.”

If a DVO is issued, he said, the judge has found that one or more of the circumstances in the definition of domestic violence has occurred.

Turcotte proposes changes that specify the procedure for responding to domestic violence calls involving an officer.

“I will not have one of the officers investigated for a crime by this agency. I will have an outside agency investigate anything in reference to a crime by another officer, to make sure there’s no bias and that we’re leaving everything out in the open, we’re not trying to hide anything,” Turcotte said.

Turcotte wants the procedure to be that two uniformed officers and a supervisor respond to applicable domestic violence situations.

“Once they arrive there and make sure that everybody’s safe, they’re to contact Kentucky State Police and have them respond to take over that investigation,” he said. “If KSP cannot respond for whatever reason ... the supervisor shall take all evidence and property and call me and follow procedure about handling the domestic violence.”

Turcotte also wants to limit to two weeks the time an officer under an EPO is on administrative leave with pay to the date of his or her first court appearance.

“After that 14-day period, if that EPO is extended or goes into a DVO, I believe he would need to be placed on administrative leave without pay pending the court hearing,” Turcotte said.

Currently, employees are paid until the court hearing, but Turcotte said some attorneys have those proceedings extended several times.

Rogers later said that regardless of what happens in court, the city still has to follow state law regarding discipline of law enforcement officers and firefighters, which includes a hearing with city council, so he would be more comfortable leaving the pay in place “pending city action.”

Glasgow Mayor Rhonda Riherd Trautman noted that in one instance, an officer violated other orders about what he was supposed to be doing while on leave, and his status changed to unpaid because of that, so some wording could be included to incorporate that scenario.

Turcotte proposed wording that an officer who is issued a DVO would remain on administrative leave with pay, subject to further disciplinary action. The chief of police would then recommend dismissal from the police department, but the employee would still have a hearing with city council.

GPD’s SOP now says if an employee is convicted of a crime of domestic violence, the provisions of a federal law kick in that dictate when a person can carry a firearm, so that person would be terminated because he or she cannot perform the duties for which they were hired, Turcotte said.

Rogers clarified that the federal law only takes effect automatically if the officer is convicted of a criminal domestic violence-related charge. However, with either an EPO or a DVO, a judge can specify conditions regarding firearms.

One of the three accused officers has a criminal charge pending; his arraignment is scheduled for July.

The issuance of a DVO alone is essentially a civil – not criminal – conviction of domestic violence, Rogers said.

With an EPO in place, the department would essentially put the officer “on the shelf” until a hearing with a judge, he said.

“When you have that hearing, you’ve had a chance to defend yourself, and if you’ve been convicted, a civil conviction with a domestic violence order, then your job is in jeopardy, as well it should be because you carry a gun and a badge,” Rogers said.

Councilman Marlin Witcher said: “They should be held to a higher standard, because they have to go out and investigate what they’ve already gone out and done themselves.”

Turcotte asked for the committee’s opinion on his rewriting the SOP.

“I think it needs to be addressed,” said councilwoman Karalee Oldenkamp.

Witcher and the other committee members – Freddie Norris, James “Happy” Neal” and Brad Groce – agreed, with Neal saying he wanted them to have the opportunity to review a completed draft when it’s ready.

Turcotte said he’s also working on getting a training series in place for all of his employees that specifically addresses domestic violence among law enforcement officials.

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