Law Enforcement agencies are called when people need help with a situation or want to report something that happened. Officers are trained to take whatever actions the circumstances warrant. They take information, collect evidence, may make arrests and then make reports of what the people say happened and what they observe. Their involvement starts the legal process of holding people accountable. Once the initial investigation is completed, the reports generated are sent to the Prosecutor's office for review. If needed, we ask Law Enforcement officers to gather further information.
Domestic situations present special problems. We all know that the problems people have related to domestic violence, divorce and child custody are some of the most distressing problems that people face in life. The emotions involved in these situations make them dangerous, both to the people and to the Law Enforcement officers. Statistics show that more officers are killed in the line of duty when investigating domestic situations than in any other single kind of investigation.
Also because of the high emotions, people sometimes exaggerate or even lie about what happened. A touch becomes an “assault.” An angry word becomes a “threat.” A look becomes a “violation” of an order. The high emotions of the underlying problem color their perception of what happened.
Occasionally, folks want charges brought against another person because they think it will give them an advantage in the custody or divorce action. They occasionally demand that this office prosecute the other person in accordance with whatever would be to their advantage in the underlying situation. Sometimes both sides take turns calling the police to investigate. Once in a while, the party that calls the authorities is the party that ends up being arrested or being charged.
The prosecutor's office must look at the overall situation. We try to sort out what really happened and decide what interests would be served by the actions we take. Over all, we try to decide what the right thing to do is. We may bring a charge or not, based on evidence and these considerations. The prosecutor's office has the obligation to take actions that further the interests of what is right and fair in view of all the facts and circumstances, not just the desires of one or the other of the parties. Sometimes this leaves one or both the parties unhappy, but the fact they might not like it does not control what we do.