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.


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