Domestic Violence Can Present Risks to Responding Police

Domestic violence, which so often occurs behind closed doors, also presents a risk to the police officers who show up at the door to help.

Ashley Guindon was sworn in as a Prince William County police officer on a Friday in February and showed up for her first shift that Saturday. It was a job she had always wanted, her uncle said.

"We were very happy with the career path she chose," Mark Guindon said.

The department tweeted a photo for her first day, writing, "Be SAFE," just before she and fellow officers responded to a domestic disturbance in Woodbridge, Virginia.

"Any officer realizes your next call could be your last," her Mark Guindon said.

When she and two fellow officers approached the door that Saturday, the man inside opened fire, wounding two of them and killing Guindon.

Prince William County Police Chief Barry Barnard said Guindon’s had an “immeasurable” impact on the department.

The News4 I-Team collected police reports from throughout the D.C. region and found more than 60,000 domestic disturbance cases in the region in just the past year. The I-Team found a series of cases in which the officers responding were assaulted, injured or, in Guindon's case, killed.

In Montgomery County, Capt. Rodney Brown oversees a team that serves protective orders up to 20 times a night.

"More times than not, they're not happy to see us," he said.

Each night, his team gears up in bulletproof vests and reviews files to see if the people they're approaching are likely to be armed or violent.

“There are times when they have to be forcibly removed from their homes," Brown said.

Police across the region say they specially train officers and deputies who handle these calls in de-escalation.

"It is our responsibility to bring some sense of calm, some sense of order to these situations that 10 minutes ago were chaos, violence, disruption,” Barnard said.

Ashley Guindon's family says her case shows front-line officers will always be at risk.

"Everything they do is a split-second decision, and you know it's a life-and-death decision,” Mark Guindon said.

Thousands of protective orders are issued each year in the D.C. area.

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