Even if you are not a football fan, you probably know what happened today to former Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice. A star in the NFL, Rice was fired from his team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. His career as a multimillionaire athlete is effectively over.
Ray and his then-fiance Janay Palmer were in an elevator in Atlantic City in February when Rice struck Palmer in the face, knocking her unconscious. When the elevator stopped, he is shown on video dragging her unconscious out into the hallway. Supposedly, the Ravens leadership and the NFL only had access to the video of Rice dragging her out of the elevator. They suspended Rice for two games at the beginning of the season for violating policy against domestic violence. At the time, Rice was arrested, but participated in a pretrial diversion program that would drop the charges. Rice and Palmer have since married.
Today, a video of what happened IN the elevator was released by TMZ Network. The video shows Rice hitting Palmer in the face, almost instantly knocking her out. When the Raven leadership and the NFL saw the video, they took the action today to separate him from his career.
So what does that mean to you as a sworn officer? The discussion today on the talk shows and in the media has centered around aggressive personalities playing football, arguments getting out of hand, the NFL’s response to domestic violence, and society’s concepts regarding the treatment of women. So this incident brings up two important questions for sworn officers and civilian employees alike.
Domestic violence has cost Ray Rice a career doing the only thing he knows how to do. Our business is stressful, full of violence on the street on both sides of the badge. We work in an environment that is potentially more violent than football or hockey, then turn it off and go home at the end of the day. If you don’t turn it off, what would a Ray Rice-like incident cost you? Your career? Your livelihood? Your life?
And, what is your community’s posture toward domestic violence? The NFL community is being accused of not caring much about domestic violence due to its initial response to this event. What happens when you go to a domestic violence call? Are you interested in helping, or – let’s be honest here – is it just another BS call that takes up time and resources and should have never happened in the first place? Your attitude, your agency’s attitude, and your community’s attitude all dictate how you handle that call for service.
So it’s time for some self-assessment when it comes to domestic violence. Ask yourself how you are perceived by those close to you – can you turn it off when you get home for the day? Can you put on your combat face and take it off at will? If not, you need to make changes. Now. Do you see domestic violence as a real issue with real problems needing real solutions? I hope so.
Something to think about. Most of us cannot survive the aftermath of a domestic violence event. Those who mean the most to us can certainly not survive.