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Criticism of Ohio domestic violence protective order enforcement

One of the tools available to victims of domestic violence in Canton, Ohio, is a protection order. Unfortunately, the enforcement of protection orders in Ohio continues to be a problem for everyone involved. With an issue like domestic violence, spotty enforcement can be life threatening.

One of the main problems regarding protection order enforcement is poor training, according to victims' advocates. Law enforcement officers in Ohio reportedly need training concerning the distinctions and expectations of civil and criminal protection orders.

A criminal protection order is temporary and follows the occurrence of a crime such as a domestic violence arrest. A criminal court judge can also issue a criminal protection order, which can create the impression to law enforcement of heightened or greater importance than a civil order.

The second type of order is a civil order. Civil orders do not necessarily follow the occurrence of a crime. A judge or magistrate may issue a temporary protection order based on a petition describing an individual's fear of harm and evidence that those fears are justified. The judge also has the opportunity to hold a more complete hearing with both parties present, which can result in an order of up to five years in duration.

In the eyes of the law, civil orders are indistinguishable from criminal orders and they each deserve the same level of attention, but according to news reports this is not always the case.

A committee studying domestic violence in Ohio recently recommended increasing training for everyone involved in enforcement and response to domestic violence protection orders.

According to the director of the committee, discussions are brewing statewide concerning the simplification and clarification of the various protection orders, because enforcement is key to protection, and the protection of the victim should always be law enforcement's first priority.

Source: Cleveland.com, "Spotty enforcement of protection orders means domestic violence victims can't count on police, advocates say," Rachel Dissell, Feb. 21, 2012

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