Just in time for Valentine’s Day, several articles that crossed my Facebook feed this week drew my attention to the women who “walk the line” by being in relationships with law enforcement officers. Indeed, there’s almost as much copaganda pertaining to cops’ wives and girlfriends as there is about cop themselves. Women who date and marry police officers seem to view themselves as a breed apart from other women, boastfully basking in the reflected glory of men who dress up in magic costumes that allow them to steal, rape, kidnap, and kill with impunity.
“Ride or die” cop chicks want the world to know the undying loyalty they have for their romantic partners, but do they receive the same loyalty in return?
The High Divorce Rate
Perhaps products like the ones above are just mass-marketed bravado designed and purchased by police wives to convince themselves they really want to be in the law enforcement marriages that most of them will end up leaving. Law Enforcement Today reports:
“We all know that the divorce rate for the nation sits right at about 50%, but did you know that the rate for officers is 60-75%? Staggering numbers when you really consider it. Approximately one quarter of the officers who are married will still be married to that same spouse at the end of their careers. One quarter.”
Alcohol abuse, frequently toxic for relationships of all kinds, is a common issue amongst police officers. From Police Chief Magazine:
Law enforcement officers drink in greater quantities and have higher rates of binge drinking compared to non-officers. This drinking is not always off the job—25 percent of officers report having consumed alcohol while on duty.
In a 2011 study, 18.1 percent of male officers and 16 percent of female officers described “adverse consequences” from alcohol use, and 11 percent of male and 16 percent of female officers admitted to engaging in at-risk levels of alcohol use during the previous week. In another recent study, 33.9 percent of law enforcement students indicated excessive alcohol use compared to 26 percent of other students, and, in a study by Peter Weiss, 44.8 percent of the lowest performing officers of the 632 surveyed exhibited “alcohol issues.”
It’s not just the stresses of the job and the tendency of police officers to cope through alcoholism (and other means), that contribute to their higher rates of divorce; Some experts say the personality traits of cops don’t make for good marriages to begin with. A marriage therapist writing for PoliceOne disputes that law enforcement officers experience higher divorce rates, but still admits the following:
In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman (another guy with solid research to back up his opinions) writes, “Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power, there is an 81 percent chance that his marriage will self-destruct.”
As a marriage therapist, I can say the police personality (cynical and controlling) and the nature of our job (my way or the highway) are not compatible with egalitarian marriages.
While not specifically addressing law enforcement marriages, a Daily Beast article on predictors of divorce warns:
If you’re a man with high basal testosterone, you’re 43 percent more likely to get divorced than men with low testosterone levels.
“This is something that evolutionary psychologists and everyday people should take account of,” says Coontz. “Hypermasculinity is neither an evolutionary benefit nor an adaptive trait, especially nowadays, when the best predictor of a successful marriage is not the specialization into two separate roles”—stereotypically male and stereotypically female—”but rather a convergence and a sharing of roles.”
Mazur, Allan. Lanham, MD: Biosociology of Dominance and Deference, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005, p. 125.
Cops’ Value Their Marriage Vows as Much as They Value Their Vow to Uphold the Constitution
An embarrassing dirty detail has come out in the aftermath of the murder of Texas Deputy Darren Goforth. It turns out the woman who witnessed him being gunned down in cold blood at that gas station on August 28 was actually his mistress. Goforth’s mistress appears to have a real thing for men in police uniform, possibly being what LEOs refer to as a “badge bunny.”
Photography is not a Crime reports the following:
“She then fell into a sexual relationship with Sergeant Craig Clopton, who began investigating that murder, resulting in Clopton getting fired in October.
And now we’re learning she had a sexual relationship with Harris County sheriff’s deputy Marc DeLeon, who responded to the shooting death of Goforth.
That was an ongoing relationship that began before Goforth’s murder and continued after his murder. DeLeon was fired Wednesday for lying about the affair, according to KHOU.
Now there’s a fourth deputy under investigation who apparently also fell under her sexual charm as some point either before or after the murder, but his name has not been released.”
While it is shocking to some that so many officers at one agency would be sleeping with the same woman, according to one former cop it’s not so unusual [emphasis mine]:
“I know it looks like some kind of swingers society, but it really isn’t,” said former Houston Police officer Tom Nixon. “It’s people who have aggressive personalities who have low inhibition.”
Nixon said it’s not all that uncommon for officers to have sexual relationships with the same women. He said it’s a dirty little secret many don’t know about, but one that has now come to light.
For their part, police wives have turned to memes to protect their marriages from the sexual predators who target innocent police officers.
Side note: Women who pride themselves on their attraction to the boys in blue might want to read up on how they’re viewed in the profession. Those seeking a committed relationship might want to read this anecdote. Those who have already committed themselves to drowning in blue waters can bookmark PoliceOne’s 8 Ways to Repair a Police Marriage After an Affair for future/current use.
A Love that Takes Your Breath Away, Literally
It’s well-known that law enforcement officers have a serious, largely unaddressed domestic violence problem. There is even a term for it, Officer-Involved Domestic Violence (OIDV). Some studies have estimated that the rate of domestic violence amongst police is two to four times as high as it is for the general population, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police has even developed a model policy for addressing domestic violence by police officers.
This is a topic we’ve discussed on the site before, but here are several examples of how loving the men behind the badge has worked out for some women:
Colonie, New York police officer Israel Roman used his department-issued handgun to murder his wife, their 10–year-old son on February 9, 2016. He then set their house on fire and killed himself with the same gun. A friend of Deborah Roman’s told reporters that the late Mrs. Roman confided that she felt “oppressed and trapped” in the marriage, and that her police officer husband refused to let her access social media sites like Facebook.
- Officer Joshua Boren of the Linden Police Department in Utah used his department-issued gun to murder his wife, their 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, and his mother-in-law before committing suicide. His wife had just confronted him and threatened to leave him over his repeated incidents of drugging her with Ambien and then videotaping himself raping her after she passed out. In text messages sent the night before her murder, Kelly Boren told her LEO husband, “I hate my life because (of) you,” “You killed a part of me,” and “I don’t want to live in fear and hate and anger.”
- In one mysterious case, Officer Luis Monroig of the Naples Police Department in Florida (allegedly) shot his girlfriend, Sergeant Amy Young (with the same department), in the face with his service weapon and then shot himself after a night of drunken arguing on July 9, 2014. Neighbors reported that Young appeared inebriated when she drove herself home that evening, and she tested positive for both alcohol and benzodiazepines (a class of tranquilizers that comes with explicit warnings against mixing them with alcohol), and Monroig also had alcohol in his system. According to PoliceOne, Young drew her service weapon first, which was not fired, but “could not recall how she was shot but remembered waking up on the bedroom floor next to Monroig, who was dead.” PoliceOne reports in the same article:
“Monroig had been secretly recording his phone calls, including those the night of July 8. State Attorney’s officials said they could not release the recordings because of Florida law but said it was clear “that Monroig sounded angry and became increasingly irate as time passed.”
Usually people record their own phone calls to collect evidence against someone else, so it’s too bad the public will never know the content of these recordings. An anonymous letter alleged that Young had accidentally discharged her weapon and been required to complete remedial training, and had also had her gun temporarily taken away for threatening to shoot another officer several years earlier. Nevertheless, Young was cleared in the investigation of this highly suspicious incident. Rather than take her back on the force, the Naples Police Department agreed to pay Young $140,000 and also monthly disability payments.
- Last, but not least there is one-time “Police Officer of the Year,” Drew Peterson, an infamous sergeant with the Bolingbrook Police Department in Illinois. Peterson’s first two marriages were marred by abuse and infidelity, the last two added murder and suspicious disappearance. Peterson is currently serving a 38 year sentence for murdering his third wife, a crime he got away with for years until officials took a closer look at the case following the disappearance of his fourth wife. Peterson is scheduled to stand trial later this month for attempting to arrange a murder for hire on the prosecutor who sent him to prison for killing his wife.
For some former cops’ wives and girlfriends, the stalking, abuse, and murder doesn’t end with divorce or breakup:
- The Chief of the Granger Police Department in Washington, Robert Perales, was recently charged with felony stalking and perjury for harassing a former girlfriend.
- Corporal Edward Huwalt of the Ligonier Borough Police Department in Pennsylvania was fired this week after being charged with making terroristic threats, reckless endangerment and harassment for pointing a gun at his ex-wife’s new husband and threatening to kill him. According to the article, he had previously threatened to kill the man in other incidents going back to 2014.
- Sergeant Phillip Seidle of the Neptune Township Police Department in New Jersey shot and killed his ex-wife, Tamara Seidle on June 16, 2015. When Tamara Seidle crashed her car after being chased by her ex-husband (who had their 7-year-old daughter in the passenger seat of his car), the cop walked over to her car and used his department-issued gun to shoot her several times. Police officers, already at the scene for an unrelated car accident, were able to convince Seidle to release his daughter, at which point they held fire and allowed him to shoot his ex-wife several more times. When Seidle finally surrendered, he received hugs from his compassionate colleagues. One wonders what they said as they comforted the heartless murderer. Was it, “I would have done it, too?”
- On October 29th, 2014 former police officer Dave Call shot and killed his former girlfriend, Rebecca Taul and also the bulldog she had recently gotten for protection against the man she feared would harm her. He then set her Trenton, Missouri house on fire, and fled the scene. The next evening Call barricaded himself and then engaged in a gun battle with officers who had come to arrest him for the murder. The standoff ended when he committed suicide.This horrific incident could possibly have been avoided if this ex-cop had been adequately punished for an earlier depraved act. The Kansas City Star reports:
“In 2008, Call pleaded guilty in Platte County to endangering the welfare of a child and was sentenced to two years’ probation, which he completed without incident. The charges stemmed from an incident four years before when the family of a juvenile suspected that she was having sex with an older man, court records said. Eventually, the girl admitted that she and Call had sex, which was confirmed by a DNA test of her underwear. Platte County authorities initially charged Call with felony statutory rape but eventually reduced the charges to the less-serious misdemeanor.”
Had Call been convicted of felony rape, he would have been legally prohibited from buying or possessing a gun. And if he had been required to register as a sex offender, perhaps Rebecca Taul would have become aware of that information and chose not to begin the relationship that would ultimately end up costing her her life.
Side note: Police wives and girlfriends should watch PBS’ A Death in St. Augustine for a preview of the kind of diligent investigation their romantic partners’ friends and colleagues will likely engage in should they meet an untimely suspicious end.
No doubt all of this will fall on intentionally deaf ears. Police wives and girlfriends have developed a whole self-identity based on whom they are married to. They are far too invested to entertain the idea that cops are anything other than self-sacrificing heroes and that the biggest risk to their families is not the unknown criminal on the street, but the same man they worry about “making it home at night.”