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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 121161 Find in a Library
Title: Study of D.C. Police Response to Domestic Violence Shows Police Do Not Make Arrests, In Violation of Their Own Guidelines
Corporate Author: DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
United States of America
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 58
Sponsoring Agency: DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Washington, DC 20036
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Research shows that no other police response deters battering better than arrest, and that the failure of the police to arrest allows the batterer to continue his abusive behavior and assures him that his actions will not be taken seriously by the criminal justice system.
Abstract: This study of police arrest practices in domestic violence incidents in the District of Columbia shows that the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) virtually never makes arrests in domestic violence cases. The study is based on in-depth interviews with nearly 300 victims of family violence who sought protection at the Citizens Complaint Center and at Superior Court. Results of the study indicate that only 5 percent of domestic violence calls resulted in arrest, arrests were made in only 13.7 percent of cases where victims were bleeding from wounds, if the victim had broken bones or was admitted to a hospital the arrest rate dropped to zero, and only 27.2 percent of abusers were arrested who threatened their victims with weapons even when those weapons were visible to police. Incidents in which children were attacked resulted in arrests 11 percent of the time, but when damage on a victim's car was involved, arrests were made 25 percent of time. Further, policies stated in guidelines were not followed during police investigations of domestic violence including the failure of the police to provide the victim with crisis information pamphlet, file incident reports, and question witnesses to the incidents. This study recommends the adoption of legislation that mandates arrest where there is probable cause of domestic assault, requires reports to be filed in every domestic assault incident, and requires the MPD to develop and improve training programs to educate officers about appropriate responses to domestic violence. 30 references.
Main Term(s): Domestic assault; Police responsibilities
Index Term(s): District of Columbia; Police social services; Police standards
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