Beyond Mandatory Arrest: Developing a Comprehensive Response to Domestic Violence

Michael D. White, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Conventional wisdom about the appropriate police response to domestic violence has changed dramatically i recent years, characterized by an increasing move toward mandatory arrest. This paper examines an effort by the Vacaville, California Police Department to provide a more comprehensive response to domestic violence, through an innovative law enforcement, clinical and prosecutorial partnership (called FIRST). The paper employs interrupted time series analysis (ARIMA) with monthly domestic violence arrest data from 1990-2000 to investigate the impact of the program. ARIMA results are considered in the context of more general crime trends. Results suggest that the onset of the program coincided with an initial increase in arrests, followed by a longer-term decrease. Although other potential explanations could not be eliminated, findings indicate that the FIRST program played a contributing role in the reduction of domestic violence in Vacaville.

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Updated 05/20/2006