Special Reports

Tacoma officers, loved ones need support, Chicagoans say

CHICAGO - What has Tacoma done for its officers and their wives? That's what domestic violence specialists in Chicago wanted to know.

"They need somebody to come and address (officers) at roll call about how they're feeling, and tell them these feelings are normal," said Greg Bella, a vice president of the Fellowship of Police in Chicago.

Bella and union president Mark Donahue said they're sure Tacoma's police officers feel let down and betrayed by David Brame, and may be concerned about how people in the community see them.

Leadership in the police department and in the city needs to publicly declare their support and sympathy for Tacoma's line officers, they said, because those officers haven't done anything wrong.

Counselors who work with Chicago's police officers are intimately familiar with Tacoma's situation, often checking news services for the latest developments.

But they said they hadn't seen any news that the city is working to restore confidence in its officers, or reaching out to potential victims.

Because they are 2,000 miles away, they were reluctant to criticize the city on the record. But they said it was clear that Tacoma's leaders need to tell the public that domestic violence will not be tolerated, particularly in police officers' families, and that when victims are ready to talk about their abuse, support will be there.

Tacoma police spokesman Jim Mattheis said that after Brame shot his wife, the department ordered all officers to attend "critical incident stress debriefings" (group sessions with counselors) to give officers emotional support. They offered those debriefings to officers' spouses as well.

The department hasn't specifically reached out to officers' loved ones to express concern about domestic violence, he said, because they're not sure how it should be done.