Columbia, SC (WLTX)- Mandatory criminal domestic violence arrests are no longer a part of our state's law. The criminal domestic violence law that went into effect in June leaves it to the discretion of an officer to arrest or not.
Pat Patterson is a domestic violence survivor. Because the new law no longer includes mandatory arrests, Patterson says it's more important than ever for the community to be involved.
"Most often when somebody calls the police they just want the situation deescalated, they just want somebody to intervene" said Patterson as she recalled her story. She says she's endured terrible situations.
"My family did not intervene to assist me in this and the neighbors didn't intervene to assist me and the people at my church didn't intervene to assist me, they just didn't acknowledge it. So I could come in with bruises and whatever and they just didn't acknowledge it" said Patterson.
The Richland County Sheriff's office says their role is to deescalate. Arrests now rely on whether or not there's probable cause.
JP Smith, an investigator with the department, describes probable cause in this way: "Probable cause is something that you can see; it's something that you can articulate, it's evidence, bruising on somebody if the victim tells you well he picked up the bottle and smashed it on the table then cut me with the bottle and you see a bottle laying on the floor and of course she has the cuts, that's building up probable cause what you can articulate is collecting evidence what you can document."
Both agree that education is key to lower the amount of domestic violence cases.
Patterson is now married to Russ Wheat and describes him as "a wonderful, courageous man of virtue". She says, "Pat Patterson was the victim. Patricia Wheat lives like a queen."