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An innovative response to an intractable problem: Using village public safety officers to enhance the criminal justice response to violence committed against Indian women in Alaska's tribal community

Award Information

Award #
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $294,317)

The purpose of the study is to contribute directly to NIJ's efforts to evaluate state and tribal responses to violence against Indian women in tribal communities. Through the use of detailed case file reviews and focus group discussions with Village Public Safety Officers (VPSO), as well as community and criminal justice stakeholders, this project will examine the contributions VPSOs make to the community and criminal justice responses to violence committed against Indian women in Alaska's tribal communities. Specific attention will be paid to the impact VPSOs have on the investigation of domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, and homicide cases, as well as the extent to which VPSOs facilitate the prosecution of those who commit violence against Indian women in Alaska's tribal communities. Finally, this research will assess the potential transferability of the VPSO model to other tribal communities. The overarching goal of the proposed project is to evaluate and document empirically the impact Alaska's VPSO initiative is having on the investigation and prosecution of those who commit acts of sexual and domestic violence, as well as homicide, against Indian women in Alaska's tribal communities. For the 2008-2011 study period, information pertaining to the case processing (investigation and prosecution) of an estimated 800 domestic violence, 750 sexual assault, 670 sexual abuse of a minor, and 25 homicide case files will be coded and analyzed. Case file coding will include the characteristics of suspects, victims, witnesses/third parties, as well as investigating officers. Focus groups will be conducted with groups of 10-20 individuals in four (4) research sites, as well as with small groups (8-10 individuals) of VPSOs, VPSO Coordinators, Alaska State Trooper (AST) Oversight Staff, and state prosecutors. Analysis of the case file and case processing data will proceed through three stages: (1) descriptive univariate analyses, (2) comparative bivariate analyses, and (3) multivariate inferential (explanatory) analyses. Regression techniques appropriate for the modeling of categorical dependent variables will be used, such as binary, ordered, and multinomial logit/probit models. Sample selection bias will be addressed through the estimation of bivariate probit selection models. The data from focus groups and interviews will be analyzed for salient themes related to the role and impact of VPSOs in Alaska's tribal communities. These thematic analyses will be used to contextualize and interpret the findings of the quantitative analyses.ca/ncf
Date Created: September 12, 2013