Police in Caribou, Maine, have reported a sharp increase in the number of domestic violence accusations. The police chief there credits the media for the attention domestic violence has been getting as well as a more open approach that law enforcement has taken to complaints.
However, an increase in domestic violence reports is rife with problems, not the least of which is the increased potential for some of those reports to be empty and vengeful attempts to use the police to get back at someone.
Caribou Police Say Domestic Violence Reports are Up in 2019
With still nearly a quarter of the calendar year to go, the Caribou Police Department has already fielded more domestic violence cases this year than in all of 2018.
Caribou police chief Michael Gahgan says that in 2018, his police department handled 34 domestic violence cases. Through the beginning of September 2019, they had already dealt with 40, including:
- 15 domestic violence assault
- 5 aggravated domestic violence assault
- 7 standard assaults
- 3 domestic violence terrorizing
- 1 domestic violence criminal threatening.
They have also dealt with 2 accusations for harassment and have issued 6 protection order violations.
Police chief Gahgan credits media attention as well as victim advocacy and better police training for the increase in reports. When abuse victims read news stories about domestic violence, they can see that they have a lot in common with the victim and realize that they might be victims, too. With better police training for how to handle victim reports, coupled with support organizations that help victims through the process, more and more people are coming forward.
Numbers Don't Tell the Whole Story
Of course, the sheer volume of domestic violence accusations that get brought to the police department's attention in a given year is a poor indicator of the state of domestic violence in Maine. Accusations are accusations – they are not convictions and can be made without any actual evidence at all.
More Accusations May Mean Higher Odds of Wrongful Use of Police
In fact, such a sharp uptick in domestic violence allegations could be a sign that more people are using the law enforcement system for their own gain.
Precisely because support groups and police are making it easier and less intrusive for people to accuse family members or spouses of abusing them, it is almost guaranteed that some of those allegations are driven by ulterior motives.
Domestic Violence Defense at WTB Law
People who have been convicted of a crime of domestic violence can face dire repercussions like fines, jail time, a loss of gun rights, and stringent restraining orders. Even being accused of domestic violence can turn your life upside down, force you to find somewhere else to live, and leave you struggling to explain what happened to close friends and family members.