Generally speaking, police in Illinois do not have an obligation to do much. To “protect and serve” is a motto, but not usually a requirement. There are some exceptions to that and that includes victims of domestic violence. This is covered in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act.
Under that law, police officers in Illinois have a duty to protect victims of domestic abuse from their abusers. They are required to use all reasonable means to provide this protection. Whenever a law enforcement has reason to believe that a person has been abused, neglected, or exploited by a family or household member, the law requires them to: make an arrest if appropriate, discuss orders of protection, refer the victim to a social service agency and offer to take the victim to a shelter, among other things.
In a recent case, it was ruled that the Chicago Police failed in their duty when a 49 year old mother of five was killed by her abuser. Her estate was awarded $3 Million in damages.
In this case, the cops showed up and saw the abuser holding a Samurai sword and appearing to make Molotov cocktails. Officers took the man, who had been hearing voices and trying to start grease fires in the apartment to a hospital where they strapped him to a bed and then left him there.
He was released the next morning and ended up strangling the woman to death. The court found that “the officers’ failure to fulfill their duties under the (state’s Domestic Violence) Act was a substantial factor in bringing about the death.” They further stated that the police showed utter disregard for her safety.
Some of the steps they could have taken to protect her but didn’t include: informing her about orders of protection, referring her to a social service agency and taking her to a nearby domestic shelter. The Judge also faulted the officers for not ensuring the medical staff understood the dangerous behavior Thomas exhibited, which could have factored into the doctor’s decision to civilly commit him. They also didn’t arrest him despite her having a black eye and him resisting efforts to restrain him.
Worst of all, the Court suspected that the officers failed to act because they were at the end of their shifts. In other words, they couldn’t be bothered.
While these cases are rare, it’s not an isolated incident. In fact, the Village of Maywood was also successfully sued under a similar fact pattern. The cops can’t simply drop off an abuser at the hospital and then decide it’s not their problem any more.
If you or a loved one was a victim of domestic abuse and the police did not protect you/them in a way that led to your abuser coming back and doing worse, our lawyers would love to talk to you for free. Call us any time for help anywhere in Illinois.