In the future, the new york police will document the traces of everyday violence with digital photography; in munich, they work with polaroids
90,000 domestic violence calls a year for the new york city police department (nypd). In about one third of the cases, arrests and court proceedings are the result. Violence in the social sphere, the vast majority of whose victims are women and children, is often very difficult to prove. It is a case of testimony against testimony and the victims, after the initial shock, sometimes withdraw their criminal complaint because they are not ready to testify against their tormentors in court. The perpetrators’ strategies of intimidation also play a role here.
This makes it all the more important for officers to gather their own fundamental evidence. Photos of injuries, bruises or smashed furniture play a central role in this process. Previously, police officers were armed with polaroid cameras to take pictures at the scene of the crime. However, the quality of the images leaves much to be desired, as the snapshots are often slightly out of focus, leaving z.B. Hardly recognize bruises on dark skin. This is about to change, as the new york times reports that the police department is equipping its officers with digital cameras.
In addition to the much better and more detailed quality of the images, the digital devices have the decisive advantage that the images can be sent directly to the relevant judicial authorities by e-mail. Previously, shipping took days or sometimes even weeks. The prosecutor or judge in charge sees the swollen eyes, bloodshot cheekbones or worm marks on the victim’s neck within a very short time. This allows for immediate warrants or restraining orders, such as no-contact orders. Robyn mazur, in charge of domestic violence at the center for court innovation in new york, expresses enthusiasm:
This is a very, very fundamental change. By sending these images directly to the key players without wasting time, the case can potentially be settled much faster in these first, precious days.
New york is the first u.S. City to use digital photography to combat domestic violence; so far, there have only been trial runs in small towns. The new ara began a year ago in the borough of queens, and now the program is being expanded across the city. Of course, there were and are also critical voices, one main argument being that digital photos can be manipulated without great effort. An objection that certainly cannot be dismissed if they are not shot by the police. The second argument is that investigators are putting prere on victims who want to withdraw their testimony. Linda g. Mills, a professor at new york university’s ehrenkranz school of social work, says:
We must encourage dialogue, not discourage it through mechanisms that invalidate the victim’s voice. If the prosecutors have a photo, they can sit down, throw it on the table and say, ‘either you’re with us or you’re not’ – and it doesn’t matter what the victim really wants. This kind of approach leads women to go underground. Because there’s no going back. If a woman calls the police because she wants the violence to stop, this does not mean that she wants to take her husband to prison.
Queens prosecutors, on the other hand, argue that the innovation helps victims, they are less likely to be prered to keep their mouths shut and there are more frequent convictions of perpetrators.
In germany, too, the problem of domestic violence is massive. The majority of violence takes place within one’s own four walls; every year, more than 40,000 women in germany flee from acute threat situations to women’s shelters. At the beginning of 2002, the new protection against violence act (cf. Civil protection against acts of violence and stalking act pdf!) came into force, which provides better protection for victims and u.A. This law includes the possibility of expelling the perpetrator from the home and imposing a no-contact order. This law is another important signal that domestic violence is not a private matter and will not be tolerated by the state. According to the definition of the bavarian police, the term domestic violence refers to: "all cases of psychological and physical violence within marital and non-marital partnerships, especially crimes of distress, threats and bodily harm, even if they occur after separation or are directly related to the former partnership. Since this violence is mainly done by men, in the following we will only refer to ‘perpetrators’ … Spoken." (cf. Violence in family and partnership. Joint combat strategy of police and judiciary, with info-brochures for downloading.
In such a case, the police officers at the scene of the crime collect both personal evidence, i.E. Witness statements, and material evidence, which, in addition to medical certificates or forensic medical reports, also includes photographs, e.G. Of the victim.B. Destroyed furniture. When asked by telepolis, chief superintendent stephanie badewitz, munich police commissioner for women and children, said:
Officers are equipped with cameras, some with slrs, but the most common are polaroid cameras. Not every department has a digital camera, we are not that far yet. In some cases of domestic violence, the women’s injuries are then also documented in the photo studio of the forensics department. We know that a photo tells the prosecutor more than two pages of written explanations of the facts of the case. Capturing as much as possible photographically is definitely the right approach, which we are also pursuing. Digital photography as a standard would make sense, because the data can be sent immediately, but that is still in our future.
Sabine wieninger from the women’s emergency hotline in munich confirms that the police now take many photos to preserve evidence; she sees a deficit in the documentation of evidence rather in the doctors who are consulted. She thinks it is important to put the interests of the victims first and to thoroughly examine all potential advantages and disadvantages before introducing digital cameras. According to their experience, the injured women sometimes find it disgusting when they are photographed, especially when the pictures are of the whole body and the procedure is not sensitive enough. She advocates careful consideration:
It would certainly be a relief for many women if there was clear evidence, because they need it in order to obtain a court order under the protection against violence act, and the burden of proof lies with them. On the other hand, it should be carefully examined how the cameras are handled and whether the rights of the victims are fully guaranteed. I think that at the moment the cooperation between the police and the judiciary has to improve, the implementation of the new law still has to settle down. Far too few women even know what options they now have as victims of domestic violence; the information networks do not yet function optimally. In our experience, there is also sometimes a lack of information from the police officers, this should be improved. And the biggest problem at the moment is that the expulsion of the perpetrator by the police lasts a maximum of fourteen days, then in some cases there is a gap until the court order takes effect, which is a real problem for the protection of women.
Chief superintendent stephanie badewitz sees the problem with the temporal protection gap as well; it arises primarily when victims do not turn to family court immediately after the crime to seek civil orders z.B. Of the apartment overlong (cf. More protection in case of domestic violence). The police are not in direct contact with the courts and depend on the victims to inform them about upcoming deadlines or loopholes, then the preliminary police acceptance can be required. In her opinion, the cooperation with the women is not yet optimal, but this is not due to the police officers, because they are well informed through circulars and corresponding pages on the intranet. The victims had to overcome their inhibitions, go really quickly to the legal application office and report all new attacks by the partners to the police, which often did not happen due to the intense emotional entanglement.