Helping Hand of Police During Incidents of Domestic Violence

Amanda L. Robinson, Cardiff University
Christopher D. Maxwell, Michigan State University
Stephen D. Mastrofski, George Mason University

Most research on policing domestic violence has focused on two questions: what factors predict whether police make an arrest; and, whether arrest produces a deterrent effect. Prior research has neglected other actions that police might take for or against persons at the scene, such as providing advice, warning or threatening someone, making someone leave, writing a report, or making an arrest. Specifically, it is unclear whether factors that influence the arrest decision also similarly impact other decisions that officers take at the scene. This study will draw upon data from field observations conducted in Indianapolis, Indiana and St. Petersburg, Florida. To determine what combination of factors influence officers' decisions to grant or deny citizens' most restrictive requests, police actions at the scene are modeled additively and interactively. Variables analyzed include the nature of the citizens' relationships (intimate vs non-iuntimate and cohabitants vs non-cohabitants), legal considerations (offense seriousness, level of evidence), and personal characteristics of the officers and citizens. Implications of these findings are discussed in terms of theory and practice.

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Updated 05/20/2006