Police Response to Intimate Partner Violence: Influences on Decision-Making
Fulambarker, Anjali J.
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Intimate partner violence continues to be a significant social problem for which we rely on the criminal justice system, specifically on police. Thus, it is important to understand the factors that shape officer decision-making in intimate partner violence cases. This study investigated the factors associated with arrest in these cases and expands the use of the Decision Making Ecology framework previously employed in child welfare research to police, another type of public service decision-maker. Using self-administered questionnaires with police officers from multiple police departments in the Chicago suburbs, this study collected information about recent calls to which officers responded. The findings of a path analysis suggest that case-related factors and officer assessment of risk are influential in the decision-making process. Specifically, the victim signing a complaint and injuries to the victim and the offender, as well as the neighbor calling 911, the sex of the victim, and drug or alcohol use of the offender influence the decision to arrest. This model also identified that both sex of the victim and use of drugs or alcohol by the offender have a relationship with officer perception of risk, which also influences arrest. This study lends to our understanding about the complexity involved in decision-making and reveals the important role of officer perception of future risk in arrest decisions. While this study was limited in its ability to test the full Decision Making Ecology framework, findings support its potential for application in future police decision-making research. The findings also have implications for future research aimed at understanding the role that officer assessment of risk plays in the decision-making process. Ultimately, understanding the actions of police can help shape police training and policy, as well as advocacy efforts of social workers to improve short- and long-term outcomes for survivors.
intimate partner violence