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Police chief questions mandatory arrest policy in domestic abuse cases

Domestic violence graphic
Domestic violence graphic

MILWAUKEE (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Milwaukee's police chief raises the question of whether mandatory arrests are the best way to deal with non-felony domestic abuse. That's after an updated study shows that more abuse victims are likely to die when their attackers are arrested by police rather than warned.

The University of Maryland followed up on a Milwaukee study from the late 1980's, after Wisconsin started requiring mandatory arrests for domestic abuse calls. It showed that 64-percent of the city's abuse victims were more likely to die early from all causes if their partners get arrests instead of warnings. Among African-Americans, the early deaths rise by 98-percent. Police Chief Ed Flynn plans to join the study's main researcher -- Lawrence Sherman -- at a policing conference in London tomorrow to present the new findings.

Advocates for abuse victims say the arrests hold abusers accountable, and they question the methods in obtaining the new findings. They say society has changed since the 1980's, and Flynn agrees. He says there's now a much wider array of public-and-private services to address domestic violence, besides just the criminal justice system.

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