How the police can help

SHOULD I CALL THE POLICE?

REMEMBER: You have the right to be protected by the law and the police are required to provide that protection.

Dial 911 in an emergency.

You should call the police if you feel in danger. Domestic violence is a serious crime and the police should respond to your calls. Under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, it is the primary duty of the police officer who responds to a domestic violence call to enforce the law and to protect the victim from abuse.

The police are required by law to help you and to give you information about your rights. They should advise you of your rights to file a criminal complaint and/or to obtain a Restraining Order. Be sure to tell the officer all of the details. Write down the officer’s name and badge number and keep it for your records. If there is a police report, read the report carefully and ask the police to correct any mistakes. You can request a copy a few days after reporting the incident.

When the police respond to a domestic violence incident, they may call a Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT) to meet with you. The DVRT member will meet you at the police station and will provide you with resources and information to help you begin the process of getting a restraining order, clinical services, or other help you may need.

WILL THE ABUSER BE ARRESTED?

New Jersey law requires the police to arrest the abuser if:

You exhibit any signs of injury; OR
The abuser has violated an active Restraining Order; OR
A weapon was involved; OR
There is a warrant or the abuser’s arrest on any other charge.

In any of these situations, the police should arrest the abuser and press criminal charges even if you do not want the abuser arrested and even if you do not want to file a complaint.

The police may arrest the abuser after you have told them what has happened, even if you have no visible signs of injury.

If you and the abuser both show signs of injury, the officer is required to determine who is the primary aggressor in this incident before determining if anyone will be arrested.

It is very important for you to tell the police officer if weapons were used to injure you or threaten you and where the weapons are located. Even if weapons were not used in this particular incident, it is important to tell the police about any weapons the abuser may have.

It is also very important for you to tell the police officer what happened, what your injuries are, and if previous acts of domestic violence were made against you by your abuser. If there is a Restraining Order already in place, it is also important to report this information.

WHAT IF A WEAPON WAS USED DURING AN ACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

If a police officer at the scene has reason to believe a weapon was used or threatened to be used during an act of domestic violence, the officer should arrest the abuser and seize any weapons on the premises that could expose you to further harm.The officer should also sign a criminal complaint in this instance.

WHAT IF THE POLICE DON’T COME FAST ENOUGH OR REFUSE TO COME?

You should develop a safety plan in case the police do not come quickly enough. For your protection, tell your neighbor or relative” please add: “about the violence and consider setting up a code word with them to alert them that you need help in case the police do not respond quickly enough.

If the police take too long and you are still in danger, call the domestic violence hotline. The New Jersey Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline phone number is 800-572-7233.

If all else fails, be resourceful by escaping the danger, attracting attention by screaming for help, or setting off the security alarm.

Please contact your local domestic violence agency to create a safety plan specific to you. You can find contact information for the domestic violence agency in your area in our Guide to Services.
”You can find more information about safety planning on our Safety Plan page. With links to the new and improved plug-in interactive map of our “Guide to Services” and the Safety Plan section.

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