News

Domestic Violence in the Ozarks: How Law Enforcement Responds

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  Throughout the month of November, KOLR10 is tackling a topic taking the Ozarks by storm-- domestic violence.

Last year, there were 383 reports of domestic violence in Greene County.  This year, the county is on track to meet, if not exceed, that number.

KOLR10 rode along with a Greene County Sheriff's Deputy for a first hand look at the problem.  On the night we rode along, we responded to around four domestic calls in the span of about three hours.  We responded to one ongoing disturbance at the same home twice-- that one escalated to involve physical violence.

It was a Tuesday afternoon in Greene County, the sun was setting.

Deputy Benjamin Ramsey was ready to roll on the night shift.

He was patrolling-- protecting and serving the public-- when, suddenly, the first domestic disturbance call came in.

Someone, somewhere was in danger-- by a person they knew and loved.

"We see them on all shifts," said Deputy Benjamin Ramsey.  "But we see them mostly after five, six at night."

The sirens blared.  Deputy Ramsey prepared for the unknown.

"Every domestic call is unknown," he said.  "We don't know what we are getting into."

When deputies arrive on scene, it's confusing-- sometimes, chaotic.

"Emotions run high," said Ramsey.  "So the first thing we have to do is calm everyone down. If we can't do that, we can't figure out what happened."

There's often manipulation, lying and deceit.

"In a domestic violence call, anyone can be the primary aggressor-- male or female-- but the vast majority of the time, it's the male," said Ramsey.  "What frequently happens in cases of actual violence, is by the time we get there, the victim is upset and often can be the most difficult to deal with, initially-- and the suspect, who actually committed the violence, frequently, is the more calm person-- because they're hoping to manipulate us into not arresting them."

KOLR10 was able to see some of the confusion and panic first-hand. We were asked not to record at the actual stops for privacy purposes. Many of the times, kids were involved.

"We talk to neighbors, friends, family members," said Ramsey.  "And sometimes, the most honest people we talk to on scene are the children-- because they just want to tell you what happened."

While most of the calls do involve some kind of verbal disagreement, they don't necessarily escalate to involve physical violence.

"Sometimes, the call sounds bad-- but when we get there, it's two people who just don't know how to communicate other than to yell and scream-- so that's not necessarily domestic violence," said Ramsey.  "It's our job to figure out if there was violence.  We try to separate them and figure out what happened and determine if we have a crime-- and if we have a crime, who did it?"

The victim often tries to protect the suspect.

"Working a domestic is like any other investigation," said Ramsey.  "You're trying to figure out the truth-- and the problem is, everybody lies."

The victim, of course wanting the abuse to stop, is also fearful.

"To add to the confusion of domestic violence calls, it's very common for the victim to lie as well-- because they want the abuse to stop-- but what they're scared of, is maybe the abuser is the only person in the family that has a job," said Ramsey.  "Sometimes, it's easier for these victims to accept the abuse-- because they don't have an alternative."

While the suspect hopes to convince law enforcement he's innocent, the victim's emotions run high.

With deputies often left to solve the problems, it's not unusual they'll be coming back-- returning to that same home again, just hours later.

"We're not going to fix it today-- but we can try to patch it up and come up with a solution," Ramsey said.  "But it won't solve the problem."

 


More Stories

Latest News

Video Center