Are PPO's Effective?

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Wednesday, Jackson police told Terrance Wheeler his ex-girlfriend Dorothy Holliday had taken a personal protection order, or PPO, out against him.

That same day, legally barred from going near her, police say Wheeler went to her house anyway and murdered her.

"A PPO is only as effective as the person willing to follow the conditions. Obviously in this case, that didn't occur," says Jackson County Prosecutor Henry Zavislak.

Zavislak sat down with us Thursday to talk about PPO's. They're essentially court-ordered mandates to stay away from people. They're common-- about 200 issued in Jackson County a year-- but not always useful.

"For 75 percent of people they can be effective, but for the other 25 percent, it wouldn't make a difference what one did," Zavislak says.

A frightening thought, says Becky Filip, executive director of AWARE, a women's shelter in Jackson.

"We always suggest they get a PPO, but it's not body armor," Filip says.

A PPO might give you a sense of protection, but they say to be really protected, you should check yourself into a shelter like AWARE.

"We have security here, there are people here 24 hours a day, we have emergency buttons that contact police," Filip says.

"There is an over-reliance by some thinking 'I have a PPO, I'm safe.' That is simply not the case," Zavislak says, as we see so unfortunately in this recent murder.

Anyone who has been physically, emotionally or sexually abused, or threatened by someone they have been married to, had a child with, lived with or dated can get a PPO.

You can also get a PPO against someone who's stalking you-- whether that's by phone, or by showing up at places you are.

To get a restraining order, you should have a detailed letter addressed to the court explaining the situation. Police reports, medical records, photographs and witnesses can also help.

Do You Think Restraining Orders Are Effective Tools For Protecting People?


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by John Esckilsen Location: Lansing MI on May 30, 2009 at 08:43 AM
    The Lansing court systems are the worst at issuing PPO's and even worse at punnishing violaters. My family had a PPO on some one that occured 7 violations in a short period of time and was never punnished. Years after the incident, it started to re-occur (Stalking), and my family was denied a PPO because the judge felt the person was not an iminate danger and was looking out for our best interest. Well, I hope that no one in my house hold has the same outcome as Dorthy Holliday did. PPO = What a joke!!
  • by kevin Location: jackson on May 29, 2009 at 04:56 PM
    why would you get a ppo out on someone for if you need one that says the person isnt right and you life is in danger and that person needs help right there not after when they hurt or kill someone, my prays go out to both families and there loss.
  • by nana on May 29, 2009 at 04:51 PM
    The problem is we don't know the persons thought and what their going to do.I believe no person should have to leave their home like Ms. Holliday this was her home and she felt safe there, we need to fight back and if that means owning our own guns so be it, if she was arm i dont think she would be dead. Both these families now have to bury there love ones because of a man that didnt want to let go of his abuse on this women, he no longer could control so his life didnt mean anything on her life or his.
  • by Populista Location: jenniferrefinnej@peoplepc.com on May 29, 2009 at 11:06 AM
    There has to be something else people can do to protect themselves legally. It just isn't right that people have to be sitting ducks waiting for the crazies to do something to them before anything can be done.
  • by Cyndi Location: Eaton Rapids on May 29, 2009 at 08:22 AM
    As with most of us, we under estimate, the danger, of certain individuals. We don't really know, how violent a person can be. I have to believe that Ms. Holliday, would have gone to AWARE, had she known. This was someone she had loved at one time. Please don't under estimate how evil a person can be. Always error on the side of caution. Check into a shelter...!
  • by Anonymous on May 28, 2009 at 08:43 PM
    If everyone was allowed to carry a gun we wouldn't have this problem my sympathy goes out to both families
  • by liz Location: jackson on May 28, 2009 at 08:15 PM
    Well i had a friend and she had it on her ex boyfriend and the police take him to jail for one but then he got out and ran his mouth some more and went back to jail for the same thing and got 90 days out of it. But i just helped her out
  • by sandy on May 28, 2009 at 05:36 PM
    i agree donna i know a few people who had to take a ppo out and they still had problems with the police not helping when they should, one of my friend ended up in the hospital thank god she survive but it wasnt for the police but for her neighbor took him out and even the ambulance showed up before the city and she only live on mason hello, but anyways my pray goes out to her family and all other victims of abuse.
  • by Donna Location: Jackson on May 28, 2009 at 04:32 PM
    Would be nice if the Police would enforce the PPO when it is broken. Been down this road an called for assistance had proof an yet not a thing was done.. I was a lucky one and wasnt killed. I believe I went to school with Dorothy an there wasnt a mean bone in that womans body... sad sad day here in Jackson
  • by Anonymous on May 28, 2009 at 03:56 PM
    PPO are only useful if you have reasonable people. If they have an PPO against them, they are not reasonable.
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