skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 98989 Find in a Library
Title: Police Discretion and Family Disturbances - Some Historical and Contemporary Reflections (From Unhappy Families, P 121-129, 1985, Eli H Newberger and Richard Bourne, ed. - See NCJ-98986)
Author(s): M Feldberg
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 9
Sponsoring Agency: PSG Publishing Co, Inc
Littleton, MA 01460
Sale Source: PSG Publishing Co, Inc
545 Great Road
Littleton, MA 01460
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper describes and critiques four common patterns of police response to domestic disturbances when police discretion is permitted; it argues against State laws that require police to remove the victim from the home and arrest the assailant.
Abstract: When police are free to act at their own discretion in responding to domestic disturbance calls, their typical responses are avoidance, punishment, negotiation, and professional detachment. Avoidance involves trying to get another car to take the call, delaying response to the call, and leaving the scene immediately if the victim refuses to lodge a complaint. The punishment response consists of an officer assaulting the alleged offender to give him 'a taste of his own medicine' in an effort to deter future assaults. Neither of these two police responses is professionally acceptable. A third response, negotiation involves police in specialized training that that equips them to negotiate with the family to arrive at a consensus about how to address systemic family problems. This style will often include referring family members to social services. The disadvantage of this response is the amount of time involved in guiding the family toward constructive action. The fourth response, professional detachment, involves calming the parties, diverting their thoughts to positive aspects of their relationship, and then leaving without attempting an indepth approach to resolving their problems. Although this response does not promise to resolve family problems, it may be the most appropriate police response, given training and time limitations. Although some States have passed laws mandating removal of the victim from the home and the arrest of the alleged offender based upon probable cause that he assaulted the victim, this limitation in police discretion may prevent more creative responses to particular situations. A five-item bibiliography is provided.
Index Term(s): Domestic assault; Family crisis intervention units; Police crisis intervention; Police discretion; Police legal limitations; Police social services
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.