It is well known that domestic calls are potentially the most dangerous, and often the most challenging for attending officers. Many of these calls are associated with high-conflict separation and divorce.
While many police forces have domestic conflict units, their limited resources make it difficult for them meet the needs of the many families, and even if there were more resources, they aren't in a position to provide the services that the families need.
Attending officers are in an almost impossible position. Faced with conflicting information from each parent, court orders that either aren't available or aren't specific enough to be useful on the particular issue at hand, and only a small amount of information on the system from previous calls, these officers do their very best to sort things out.
A co-parenting coordinator can dramatically reduce the number of times that these families call, and he or she can be a tremendous resource to the attending officers.
Example: The police are called with an allegation of parenting time interference, or of stalking and harassment.
First of all, families are instructed to call their co-parenting coordinator prior to calling the police. Most of the time, the issue will be resolved and the police will not even be called.
In the event that one of the parents called the police without calling the co-parenting coordinator first, the attending officers would be informed by the other parent that there is a co-parenting coordinator and then he or she would be called. Now, instead of a he-said-she-said situation, the attending officer can speak with the co-parenting coordinator and get objective information. Depending on what the background is and circumstances are, dramatically different actions would be required.
If the allegation was of parenting time interference, the co-parenting coordinator might inform the officers that:
- this has been an ongoing problem and please facilitate the exchange. Or,
- the parent who called them has the schedule mixed up and there is not supposed to be an exchange.
If the allegation was of stalking and harassment, the co-parenting coordinator might inform the officers that:
- this has been an ongoing problem. The person that is trying to pick up the children often has to wait patiently outside on the curb or in his/her car while the other person delays or prevents the exchange. The person interfering with the parenting then makes a false allegation of stalking and harassment. Previous allegations have been thoroughly investigated and were shown to have no merit. Please facilitate the exchange. Or,
- the stalking and harassment has been a concern. Please investigate thoroughly and lay charges if warranted.
We are hopeful that co-parenting coordination will be eagerly endorsed by police departments across the country.
What can you do as police?
Tell people about co-parenting coordination and suggest that it's something they should consider putting in place.
One very important reason that the Canadian Co-Parenting Centres was formed was because while there are private practitioners providing co-parenting coordination services, it is difficult for families to connect to them.
Police often hand out cards listing community agencies, but to our knowledge, none of them offer co-parenting coordination. Similarly, when people phone distress centres, they won't get the referral that they need because up until the formation of the Canadian Co-Parenting Centres there was no agency to refer them to for co-parenting coordination services.
If there is a Canadian Co-Parenting Centre in your city/community, then we have either contacted your department or will contact you soon.
If there is not a Canadian Co-Parenting Centre in your location, please still contact us. Perhaps a relationship with your department will be enough to initiate the creation of a new centre.