We read the June 7 Post-Gazette article headlined "Citizen Police Review Board Investigating Handling of Hill District Woman's Domestic Violence Reports." We believe that there continues to be systemic problems in the justice system addressing domestic-violence incidents. This case raises three primary concerns.
The first incident occurred in December but the criminal complaint and arrest warrant were not issued until January. Why was there such a delay between the victim report of abuse to police and the filing of the criminal complaint and the issuance of a warrant?
The woman involved, Donna Williams, went to Zone 2 with a visible bite mark on her face. She told police she had been held captive for two days. Why did the police send her to get a protection-from-abuse order? Under the Pittsburgh police mandatory-arrest policy, when a victim reports a domestic-violence crime and has physical injury and/or corroboration of the incident, police can make an arrest without a PFA.
Police found the accused man, Robert L. Taylor, at Mercy Hospital. They served him with the PFA papers but left him there unguarded. Police requested that Mercy Hospital security call them when Mr. Taylor was released. Why didn't the police post guard? In domestic-violence cases, police should arrest alleged perpetrators in hospital/medical settings and post a guard.
On behalf of the 1,400 members of the National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section, and the 13,000 contributing members of Pennsylvania NOW, we look forward to the Citizen Review Board hearing on June 23 and call for a public hearing on city and county policies surrounding these issues.
JOANNE L. TOSTI-VASEY
Ms. Tosti-Vasey is president of Pennsylvania NOW Inc. Ms. Nitzberg is president of the National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section.