Public Satisfaction With the Police in Domestic Violence Cases: The Influence of Expectations, Arrest, and Demeanor

Steve Wilson, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Jana L. Jasinski, University of Central Florida

Public satisfactions studies are important to police effectiveness in domestic violence cases. If a department has a bad reputation, as perceived by citizens, victims may be reluctant to call the police when they need help or cooperate when officers need assistance solving crimes. Research has found public satisfaction in domestic violence cases is influenced by public expectations, officer demeanor, and to a lesser extent, whether or not the offender was arrested. Citizens are often more satisfied if services exceed epectations and if officers are supportive and take victims' situations seriously. Additionally, most citizens prefer mandatory or pro-arrest policies. Most research on police satisfaction, however, is limited to local or regional areas and as a result lack external validity. To investigate this issue further, the present study utilizes data from a national study on violence against women in the United States. Preliinary analyses reveal that when citizens called the police, arrest occurred only 42% of the time; however, victims were satisfied 58% of the time. Expectations were fulfilled 58% of the time and arrest was the most expected response. Multivariate analyses reveal expectations were the only significant factor to influence public satisfaction in domestic violence cases.

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Updated 05/20/2006