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Police Responsibilities
 to Victims of Domestic Violence


Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA), police officers are to use all reasonable means to prevent further abuse. An officer may make an arrest if s/he has probable cause to believe that a crime was committed. S/he does not need to witness the crime to make an arrest, but can rely on evidence at the crime scene, including what the victim tells her, torn clothing, victim injuries, destruction of property in the home. Whether or not an arrest is made depends on police discretion. An officer does not have to arrest if s/he questions whether a crime has been committed. The police may try to talk you out of having him arrested or pressing criminal charges. If you want the abuser arrested, tell the police in a clear way. If you have an existing Order of Protection, let the police know, and show them a copy. The Order of Protection cannot be enforced unless the police are aware it exists.


Following the arrest of an abuser, he will likely make bond and be released. In every case of domestic violence where an abuser is released on bond, the law requires that he stay away from and have no contact with you for 72 hours after his release. If he does return home or make contact in violation of these conditions, he can be arrested again and charged with violating conditions of bond. The 72-hour stay-away applies to any person arrested. If you were arrested and not the abuser, you are bound by these same bail conditions.





The IDVA requires that the police take specific actions in response to domestic violence calls: The police are required to make a written report each time they respond to a domestic violence call. Whenever an officer believes that abuse has occurred s/he is required to take steps to prevent further abuse, including to:

  • Provide or arrange transportation for you to a medical facility for treatment or to a place of shelter or safety.
  • Accompany you to your home for a reasonable time to collect your personal belongings.
  • Offer immediate and adequate information of your rights (Victim's Rights Sheet) including your right to obtain an OP or to begin criminal proceedings.
  • Provide referrals to local service agencies.
  • Advise you of the importance of preserving evidence such as torn clothing, damaged property, and photos of injuries or damages.



If police do not respond in an appropriate manner, insist that they call a supervisor to the scene.  Be sure to get the name and badge numbers of all responding officers.


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