The Days After

Last year, Officer Reginald Mosely worked as a security officer at a local motel when he was off duty. During the long shifts, he got to know a clerk named Jen.

Gradually, she told Mosely the story of an abusive relationship. She said her boyfriend hit her and threatened her. The violence had gone on for months, she said, and she was unsure of what to do. She told him she had called police several times, but nothing seemed to change.

Mosely urged her to get a restraining order. In December, she did.

On March 2, Jennifer Herring was shot to death at Microtel Inn & Suites. Herring's ex-boyfriend, Francis Vallery Jr., was charged with the crime.

Mosely was in a training session at the Lafayette Police Department and heard over the police radio that the woman he had tried to help was killed at the place they worked.

It was devastating news to Mosely, who has spent more than 10 years as a police officer and has made domestic violence one of his top priorities as a patrolman.

Mosely sits on the board of directors for Faith House, a local women's shelter, and is one of the shelter's "Real Men" who go to area schools in an attempt to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Through his work on behalf of Faith House, and especially while he's patrolling the streets, Mosely has an up-close view of the scared children and fearful mothers - the lives torn apart by domestic violence.

"It's more serious than I thought it was at first," Mosely said.

Out on patrol, Mosely admits a certain frustration at the limitations of law enforcement when faced with such a complex problem.

"Today, these guys now can do a crime and I can put them in this back seat and they can sit in this back seat and calculate how much time he has to do. That's sad," he said, gesturing beyond the safety glass of his police cruiser.

"We can do our job as police officers all day, make arrests all day. The bottom line is, we don't control the outcome once it goes to court, if it goes to court. We try to explain that to people all the time," he said.

The Lafayette Police Department has approximately 150 officers. Last year, they made hundreds of arrests in domestic abuse cases.

Domestic abuse calls are not only some of the most frequent for a police officer, they can also be some of the most dangerous.

Mosely said he has learned there's no real way for officers to prepare for what they'll encounter when they arrive at the scene.

For better or worse, Louisiana law requires that police officers make an arrest when they respond to a domestic call and see any sign of a struggle or abuse, even if the victim doesn't want them to.

"You go to arrest them and you got to worry about the wife or girlfriend jumping on your back while you're trying to handcuff (the assailant)," he said. "That's happened to several officers."

Mosely said he would like to see stricter penalties for domestic abusers, fewer plea bargains and the arrest and prosecution of those who aid offenders.

Vallery sits in Lafayette Parish Correctional Center awaiting trial in the shooting death of Herring. But someone had to give him the gun, Mosely noted. Giving a gun to a person who has a restraining order against him is a crime, but no one has been arrested.

"At some point, somebody needs to be held accountable. Let's make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.

Mosely has been certified as a school resource officer and is awaiting placement at a city school. When the job goes through, he said it will make him "the happiest officer in Lafayette." He said he looks forward to continuing to work with young people who may be dealing with domestic violence.

After his talks at schools about domestic violence, he said sometimes a few youths approach him and begin talking about their own family lives.

"They tell me they've seen this happen or that happen," he said. In some cases, it might have been two or three years ago, but "they have a full memory of it."

"It affects them in every way," he said.

As an officer, he said he's seen domestic violence in all parts of the community.

One case this year brought home that reality.

"I had to arrest my neighbors," he said. "I have a low tolerance for it. I'm sorry, but I'm going to go by the book if it's domestic-related."