DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – EDUCATION OF POLICE OFFICERS-MANAGERS

Supported by OSCE Mission to BiH and implemented by the Republic of Srpska Ministry of the Interior Women Network – RS WPON.
In 2016, with the approval of the minister of the interior and the financial support of the OSCE Mission to BiH the Association “RS MoI Women Network – RS WPON” implemented the project “Domestic Violence – Education of Police Officers”. This project constituted 6 trainings in all PSCs with a total of 72 police officers trained.

The analysis of the evaluation questionnaires and the project reports showed that the project was very well received and evaluated, both by police officers – trainees and trainers (representatives of the RS Ministry of the Interior and the Prosecutor’s Office), as well as by donors – the OSCE Mission to BiH. As a result, the OSCE Mission to BiH offered to the Association to continue their cooperation during 2017 through similar trainings for middle management police officers in the Republic of Srpska, since participants of previous trainings indicated the need for them.

The minister of the interior approved the signing of the project and the implementation of the project activities.

About Project
The project “Domestic Violence – Education of Police Officers – Managers” in the Republic of Srpska Ministry of the Interior was implemented from June 1, 2017 to November 30, 2017 for police officers of all RS MoI Police Administrations, namely PA Trebinje, PA East Sarajevo, PA Foca, PA Bijeljina, PA Zvornik, PA Doboj, PA Gradiska, PA Prijedor, PA Banja Luka and PA Mrkonjic Grad.

The project “Domestic Violence – Education of Police Officers” includes three main modules and a practical evaluation:

  • Documenting and prosecuting domestic violence cases;
  • Intervention of police officers and control of their behavior;
  • Specific features of police officers’ communication with victims of domestic violence – cognitive interviewing techniques with the victim and perpetrator of domestic violence.

In accordance with the Project, trainers for three modules were a prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, a representative of the RS MoI Office for Protection of Integrity and Legality in Work and a pedagogue – a psychologist.

All costs incurred during the project were covered by the grant.

Need assessment
The analysis of previously conducted trainings and  the questionnaires filled in by the trainees of “Domestic Violence – Education of Police Officers” project in 2016, supported by the OSCE Mission to BiH as well, showed that the recommendation of great number of police officers was to provide the same training in 2017 to managerial police staff in the police stations. That is why the key focus of the training is on police officers – low and middle level police managers, especially in terms of police knowledge, skills and abilities.
Project target group
The target group are police officers – low and middle management police staff in police stations, that is, superiors to the police officers who work on domestic violence cases in the Republic of Srpska.
Organizing trainings for police officers in the RS MoI
A total of 71 police officers of the RS MoI – 8 women and 63 men, underwent training under the project “Domestic Violence – Education of Police Officers – Managers”.

A total of 71 police officers (63 males and 8 females) attended trainings on domestic violence under the project “Domestic Violence – Education of Senior Police Officers”, conducted by the RS MoI Women Network – RS WPON and financially supported by the OSCE Mission to BiH. The trainees were the immediate superiors to the police officers whose everyday tasks are related to domestic violence cases.

 

On 07/14/2017, a domestic violence education for police officers of Police Administration Trebinje was held in “SL Industry” Hotel in Trebinje within the project “Domestic Violence – Education of Police Officers”, which is implemented by the Association “RS MoI Women Network – RS WPON” and financially supported by the OSCE Mission to BiH. The training was attended by 12 low and middle management police officers and inspectors of Trebinje Police Administration. The training was delivered by the members of the RS MoI and Prosecutor’s Office of BiH.

 

On 08/18/2017 an education for police officers of Police Administration East Sarajevo and Police Administration Foca was held in “Board” Hotel on Jahorina within the same project. The education was attended by 11 police officers of PA East Sarajevo and PA Foca. The training was delivered by the members of the RS MoI and Prosecutor’s Office of BiH.

 

On 09/14/2017 an education for police officers of Police Administration Bijeljina and Police Administration Zvornik was held in “Novak” Hotel in Zvornik within the same project. The education was attended by 12 police officers of PA Bijeljina and PA Zvornik. The training was delivered by the members of the RS MoI and Prosecutor’s Office of BiH.

 

On 09/29/2017 an education for police officers of Police Administration Doboj was held in “Kardijal” Hotel in Teslic within the same project. The education was attended by 12 police officers of PA Doboj. The training was delivered by the members of the RS MoI and BiH Prosecutor’s Office of BiH.

 

On 10/23/2017 an education for police officers of Police Administration Gradiska and Police Administration Prijedor was held in “Monument” Hotel on Kozara within the same project. The education was attended by 12 police officers of PA Gradiska and PA Prijedor. The training was delivered by the members of the RS MoI and BiH Prosecutor’s Office of BiH.

 

On 11/13/2017 an education for police officers of Police Administration Banja Luka and Police Administration Mrkonjic Grad was held in “Bosna” Hotel in Banja Luka within the same project. The education was attended by 12 police officers of PA Banja Luka and PA Mrkonjic Grad. The training was delivered by the members of the RS MoI and BiH Prosecutor’s Office of BiH.

Results
The methodological linking of domestic violence issue through three aspects gave the desired results in trainings conducted in Police Administrations of Trebinje, East Sarajevo, Foca, Bijeljina, Zvornik, Doboj, Gradiska, Prijedor, Banja Luka and Mrkonjic Grad since the questionnaires showed that sensitization of police officers when interviewing a victim of domestic violence influence the quality of documentation of domestic violence misdemeanors and offences (module: Specific features of police officers’ communication with victims of domestic violence – cognitive interviewing techniques with the victim and perpetrator of domestic violence).

The prosecutor indicated that the trainees were the most active during the module “Documenting and prosecuting domestic violence cases”, and he also clarified some of the police officers’ concerns regarding the gathering of evidence for the indictment, further action of police officers if the prosecutor issues an order not to carry out or suspend the investigation, as well as gathering evidence in misdemeanor proceedings. In module “Intervention of police officers and control of their behavior” police officers were introduced specific cases in which internal and disciplinary proceedings were conducted against police officers who appeared as perpetrators of domestic violence or were subjects of disciplinary proceedings due to irregularities in documenting domestic violence misdemeanors and offences. The purpose of the foregoing was to directly point out the consequences for police officers which were inevitable in presented cases, as well as similar ones. During the discussion, as well as through questionnaires, the trainees presented concrete examples of positive and negative communication with the acting prosecutors, the differences in prosecutors’ approach, and pointed out to the need for police officers at managerial level to receive the same or similar training.

During the educations the trainees were remarkably active by taking part in presentations, asking questions, and presenting examples from practice whose joint analysis, both by educators and trainees, contributes to the better approach and action in future similar situations. It was also noticed that the trainees were more stimulated by the trainers, which is probably a consequence of the experience gained during the implementation of the project in 2016, which was also supported by the OSCE Mission to BiH.

Conclusions and recommendations
The conclusions drawn by the organizers of the training, i.e. the Association “Republic of Srpska Ministry of the Interior Women Network – RS WPON”, on the basis of the notes taken during each education, the analysis of the questionnaires filled in by police officers – trainees and the individual opinions of the educators are the following:

Even though Article 12, paragraph 4 of the Law on Protection against Domestic Violence sets out that the police is obliged to immediately notify the competent prosecutor of the domestic violence event and to provide the evidence and information with the report, the representatives of some district prosecutor’s offices believe that there is no need to inform the prosecutor immediately, especially when it comes to the late hours of the night, which creates a problem for the acting police officers since they themselves have the responsibility “to evaluate the gravity of the violence and to qualify it”;

The abovementioned situation also represents a problem in case of apprehension of a perpetrator of domestic violence – whether the apprehension is done for a misdemeanor or a criminal offense, which rises issues of practical nature – if a person, who is apprehended due to circumstances indicating that he or she will repeat the offense or complete the attempted offense, cannot be immediately brought to the court by the police, he or she can be detained for a maximum of 12 hours. When it comes to the commission of a criminal offence, an apprehended person can be detained for up to 24 hours;

So the issue is the lack of communication between the prosecutors and the police in a sense that police officers simply do not know when and in what situations they should immediately call prosecutors and when not. The proposed solution is a meeting between heads of the prosecution and police to agree on a uniform treatment;

The biggest problem for the police is qualifying a domestic violence case as a criminal offence or as a misdemeanor. The dilemma should be eliminated by the prosecutor’s offices and the police, that is, the prosecutor’s offices should specify to the police the differences between a criminal offence and a misdemeanor;

The Law on Protection against Domestic Violence, protocols signed by subjects of protection, rulebooks and other by-laws, clearly and precisely define the obligations and roles of the subjects of protection, among others, of the RS MoI members, from the very beginning, i.e. from the moment a domestic violence case is reported to the implementation of protective measures. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, experience shared at conducted seminars and trainings indicated that police acted differently depending on police administrations, that is, depending on a police station in a certain city;

The interaction with the seminar participants (low and middle management police staff), showed that police acts inconsistently, which is reflected in the following: domestic violence cases are somewhere dealt by uniformed police officers and somewhere by crime inspectors;  district prosecutors are somewhere informed on a reported domestic violence case and gathered information by phone and somewhere by filing a report; police officers independently assess and decide whether a domestic violence case  is a misdemeanor or a criminal offence, and accordingly file a request for a misdemeanor proceeding without notifying the prosecution.

The recommendations made by the organizers of the training, i.e. the Association “RS MoI Women Network – RS WPON” on the basis of the notes taken during each education, the analysis of the questionnaires filled in by police officers – trainees and the individual opinions of the educators are as they follow:

  1. It became evident that police officers crave these types of training, with elements of continuity, where they are given unlimited opportunity to talk with prosecutors and other educators at the seminar in order to immediately clarify the concerns they encounter in their work and to exchange experiences, which proved to be invaluable;
  2. Obligatory or optional meetings between chief prosecutors, heads of departments of the Prosecutor’s Offices and police officers – managers in Police Administrations in order to resolve, through direct coordination, the concerns about the police officers’ approach and establish a uniform legal practice;
  3. Organize trainings for police officers in different lines of work, where educators would be prosecutors from relevant prosecutor’s offices, who usually act on reports filed by individual organizational units of the Ministry of the Interior (training for murder and sexual offence inspectors to be held by prosecutors who usually work on those type of cases, etc.);
  4. Organize and insist on the mandatory presence of police officers at trials, especially in situations where an indictment has been filed based on the reports of a particular organizational unit. This is important so that police officers can see in courtrooms where they are most often mistaken and how defense attorneys attack their work in order to prevent such or similar mistakes later on;
  5. Encourage more direct cooperation between prosecutors and police inspectors in order to ensure that prosecutors, as often as possible, attend investigative activities carried out by police officers on their orders (e.g. establishing identity of persons and objects at police administration premises, witness hearings, taking statements from suspects etc.) in order to be able to monitor on the spot the legality and effectiveness of the implementation of individual measures and to suggest ways to remedy them. All this would be of great importance in establishing a uniform practice;
  6. When persons fined for domestic violence misdemeanors do not pay the fine, they are recorded in the register of unpaid fines, which are deleted after five years, so that the actual sanction to a perpetrator of a domestic violence misdemeanor is the inability to register the vehicle, to extend the driving license, etc. In order to avoid this and for the fine to serve its purpose, it is necessary to propose amendments to the legislation in a sense that courts, when imposing a fine, set a deadline for its payment and a threat of imprisonment if the fine is not paid within the deadline;
  7. Due to the fact that the fines imposed to the perpetrators of domestic violence misdemeanors residing in the Federation of BiH who have committed the mentioned misdemeanor at the territory of the Republic of Srpska, cannot be forcibly collected because this is refused by the relevant authorities of FBiH due to the non-compliance of legal regulations that do not allow it, it is necessary to send an initiative to the relevant authorities of FBiH to amend the regulations in order to overcome the aforementioned problem.

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