With the onset of a new year, 2012 already ushers in a vivid reminder of how dangerous domestic violence calls for service can be with the reported death of Officer Shawn Schneider, 32, of the Lake City Minnesota Police Department. Officer Schneider was a nine year veteran of the police department and also a part-time law officer with the Wabasha County Sheriff’s Office.
Schneider was fighting for his life for two weeks before he died on December 30, 2011. Shot in the head by Alan Sylte, 25, when he responded to a call for service of reported domestic violence, he likely took the bullets that were meant for the victim who was trying to escape the home and heard gunshots behind her as she fled. Prior to police arriving on the scene, Sylte had sent the victim 282 text messages before the domestic disturbance and fighting ensued in the home.
A popular and outgoing police officer, married, and a father of three young children, the tragic loss of Officer Schneider greatly impacted the community and residents were devastated by the news. They quickly rallied around the police department providing support during a difficult time of mourning and held vigils in the officer’s memory.
Officer Schneider’s line of duty death, as a result of this domestic violence call, reinforces and reminds officers around the nation not to become complacent or cynical when responding to domestic violence calls. Regardless of whether they respond to a home once or innumerable times, the high risk and lethality potential can never be minimized or ignored. Officers must be on heightened alert, vigilant at all times, extremely cautious, always have back-up and never underestimate the imminent danger that surrounds the nature of such calls for service.
It is a well known fact that domestic violence is a repetitious cycle, fueled by the components of power and control, that escalates over time. Oftentimes, the victim is manipulated, intimidated and threatened by the abuser, fearful, and may endure violence many times before the police are ever called to the home. The abuser may possess weapons, and the abuser may not only threaten or attempt to use them on the victim but may turn them on the officer as exemplified in this incident.
In his professional attempt to assist a victim of a violent domestic situation, Officer Schneider became a victim himself and lost his life as a result. His family, his law enforcement colleagues and friends and the outlying community are all secondary victims who suffer the significant impact of this heart-wrenching tragedy. His death not only leaves a tremendous void in Lake City but leaves one throughout the nation as well.
Officer Schneider’s gallant efforts to respond and attempt to diffuse a violent domestic situation resulted in the violence being turned on him. In honoring his life and recognizing his line of duty death, strong and enhanced efforts should continue to fuel the ongoing battle against domestic violence. Officer Schneider would likely want it no other way. Rest in Peace, Officer Schneider.
Contributions in memory of his death and to aid the family can be sent to:
Alliance Bank (c/o Kathy Moyer)
105 East Lyon Avenue
Lake City, MN 55401
***Karen L. Bune serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, where she teaches victimology. Ms. Bune is a consultant for the Training and Technical Assistance Center for the Office for Victims of Crime and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U. S. Department of Justice. She is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on victim issues. Ms. Bune is Board Certified in Traumatic Stress and Domestic Violence, and she is a Fellow of The Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and the National Center for Crisis Management. She is a 2009 inductee in the Wakefield High School (Arlington, Va.) Hall of Fame. She received the “Chief’s Award 2009” from the Prince George’s County Maryland Police Chief. She received a 2011 Recognition of Service Certificate from Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. She received a 2011 Official Citation from The Maryland General Assembly congratulating her for extraordinary public service on behalf of domestic violence victims in Prince George’s County and the cause of justice throughout Maryland. She received the 2011 American University Alumni Recognition Award. Ms. Bune appears in the 2012 editions of Marquis’ “Who’s Who in the World, and Marquis' Who’s Who of American Women.