Lifesaving Leadership to Break the Cycle of Family Violence: Partnerships between Law Enforcement and Communities

Strong, proactive law enforcement leadership in the struggle to address family violence can protect victims and their children, break the cycle of family violence, and save the lives of police officers. Pro-arrest jurisdictions and evidence-based investigation approaches have demonstrated these truths for nearly 25 years. But another truth is emerging in domestic violence work—we will never arrest or prosecute our way out of the problem. This means public safety leaders must build stronger partnerships with medical, social, legal, and mental health professionals if we are truly going to break the generational cycle of family violence and stem the tide of children from domestic violence homes currently flowing into our juvenile halls and state prisons.

The evidence is clear that multi-agency, multi-disciplinary centers called Family Justice Centers offer law enforcement executives a tremendous opportunity to be public safety leaders and break the cycle of family violence.1 Ten years into the rapidly growing Family Justice Center movement (multi-agency co-located service responses to domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault), strong indices of success and effectiveness are beginning to emerge at the 80 operating centers in the United States. With more than 30 Family Justice Centers that are led by law enforcement agencies, the crucial role of law enforcement leadership in advocating for such centers and leading the effort to create centers in local communities is clear. This article is a clarion call to law enforcement leaders across this country and around the world to embrace the Family Justice Center model and the partnerships with non-governmental agencies that can help law enforcement be far more effective in addressing and preventing intimate partner violence than ever before.