The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

From Advocacynet, July 26, 2009: An Interview with Detective Rick Hawes, Peel Regional Police

Posted by cgccanada on July 28, 2009

By Elizabeth Mandelman

This week I was lucky enough to meet and talk with Detective Rick Hawes of the Peel Regional Police in Ontario.  Detective Hawes has been a police officer since 1978 and for the last four and a half years, has been the Coordinator for the Family Violence Unit.

As part of his position, Detective Hawes holds multi-day classroom seminars for officers on how to properly handle domestic dispute calls, as they are much different from other situations to which officers respond.

Talking with Detective Hawes solidified for me many of the things I have learned and heard during my weeks in Canada.  For example, knowledge of a firearm in the home makes it more difficult for a victim of domestic abuse to seek help and leave their abuser, as firearms act as tools of intimidation and work to induce fear.  In fact, on the question form victims are asked to complete when officers respond to a domestic call, six out of the twenty-eight questions are related to firearms and licensure.

In addition, exiting an abusive relationship is not as simple as just making the decision to leave and leaving.  Often times, there are elements involved in abusive relationships that prevent victims from seeking help, such as children, housing, or financial dependency.

When I asked Detective Hawes about the registry included in Canada’s Firearms Act, he asserted that it is helpful in eliminating the guessing game of whether or not households to which officers respond have firearms.

Although cautious officers responding to calls never assume that a home is free of firearms even if the registry has nothing on record (especially with the rise of unregistered firearms by once legal owners), Detective Hawes views the registry as a very useful safety tool for both officers and victims.  The only substantial argument Detective Hawes has heard against the Firearms Act relates to cost and according to him, it is hard to put a price on public safety… more

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