FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, November 30, 2012
CONTACT: Cristina Williams at RICADV: (401) 467-9940; Cell: (917) 940-3729
Statement by Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence
"We commend the Barrington Police Department and its Police Chief John LaCross for responsibly handling the Sergeant Joseph Andreozzi domestic violence case. In August 2012, they asked State Police to investigate the complaints lodged against Andreozzi by his ex-wife that led to an initial charge of domestic disorderly conduct. Through their actions, Barrington Police sent the message to domestic violence victims in Rhode Island that these crimes are serious and will be investigated—even if the abuser is one of their own."
"We also commend the Rhode Island State Police, its Computer Crimes Unit, and the Attorney General's office, for conducting a thorough investigation of the case that on November 16, 2012, led to an upgraded felony charge for obstruction of the judicial system and a misdemeanor charge for cyberstalking against Andreozzi. He allegedly sent threatening phone and text messages to his ex-wife before going to her home. This kind of abuse often escalates to physical violence; the actions taken in the Andreozzi case further served to protect his ex-wife from potential harm."
"A victim of domestic violence whose abuser is a police officer often faces unique barriers to leaving the relationship and obtaining safety. Victims often fear calling the police because they know the case will be handled by officers who are colleagues and possibly friends of their abuser. Victims typically fear the responding officers will side with their abuser and fail to properly investigate or document the crime1. In the Andreozzi case this did not occur. Additionally, victims in this situation are particularly vulnerable because the abuser has a gun, knows the confidential locations of domestic violence shelters, and knows the legal system well."
"Unfortunately, studies show that domestic violence is 2-4 times more common among police families than American families in general2. When officers investigate domestic violence committed by one of their colleagues, they are telling ALL abusers that domestic violence will be tolerated NO MORE and that they will be held accountable."
"Each of us has a duty to stop domestic violence in Rhode Island—together we can end it. There are six local domestic violence agencies in our state that provide a wide array of services, including 24 hour hotline support, emergency shelter, support groups and assistance with the legal system. We urge all Rhode Islanders to remember that if they hear or see someone being hurt to call 911 immediately. And, if they or someone they know needs support to call the statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100."
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The organization was formed in 1979 to support and assist the six domestic violence prevention agencies in Rhode Island. RICADV also provides leadership to its six member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island.
1. Levinson, A. (June 29, 1997). Abusers behind a badge. Arizona Republic; Feltgen, J. (October, 1996). Domestic violence: When the abuser is a police officer. The Police Chief, p. 42-49
2. P.H. Neidig, A.F. Seng, and H.E. Russell, "Interspousal Aggression in Law Enforcement Personnel Attending the FOP Biennial Conference," National FOP Journal. Fall/Winter 1992, 25-28