Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie’s police encounter exposes dangerous inconsistencies

The consequences of something as serious as domestic partner violence shouldn’t depend on what state you live in.

The death of Gabby Petito, which has been ruled a homicide, has focused discussions on a range of issues, from “missing white woman syndrome” to federal laws against unauthorized debit card use to the contemporary phenomenon of crowdsourced crime solving. There’s another topic signaling for attention, just as it did Aug. 12, when a police officer engaged with Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, after someone witnessed a physical altercation between the two. This issue is intimate partner violence, and the disparity across states in the laws governing how police respond to such cases.

On Thursday, we learned that the Moab City Police Department will launch a review of how it handled its encounter with Petito and Laundrie, wherein their officer decided to not arrest either party. The department will wisely ask another law enforcement agency to conduct the review.