Special Reports

Policy gets praise from police-violence experts

Tacoma Police officials want the public to know that when they wrote their new policy on officer-involved domestic violence, they didn't do it in a "smoke-filled room in the basement," as one captain said.

Policy writers worked with experts from throughout the country, read dozens of policies and ran every idea past local domestic violence advocates. The policy, written in response to Chief David Brame's killing of his wife Crystal, was released to the public last week.

How does the policy stack up nationally?

Police-violence experts throughout the country, e-mailed copies of the policy and asked to analyze it for The News Tribune, praised the policy. They said it has impressive provisions for keeping victims safe, and they were pleased with the department's primary emphasis on victim safety and the secondary goal of trying not to hire people with controlling tendencies.

"I might steal some of Tom's ideas and put it in ours," said Det. Bill Roberts of Clark County, Wash., referring to Tacoma Police Capt. Tom Strickland, who wrote the policy. Roberts is considered the first in Washington to write a policy on officer-involved domestic violence.

"I thought that Tom was really thorough," said Dottie Davis, a Fort Wayne, Ind., police captain who lectures on domestic violence. "I haven't seen too many policies where they have separate written material for new hires, separate material specific for supervisors. ... I think it's pretty good."

Tacoma officials have said they think the new policy is the "gold standard" that will be a model for departments around the country. Indeed, other departments writing new policies have called Strickland for advice.

But experts such as Davis weren't willing to go that far. The policy is good, she and others said, but it's hard to say whose policy is best.

Whether the policy is followed matters more than the policy itself, the experts said.

"I think that it's a good policy, as policies go," said Diane Wetendorf, a Chicago victim advocate. "The community will have to hold the police accountable."