U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Police Interactions with Victims of Violence

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $463,277)

We know that people who are involved in criminal behavior are also more likely to be victimized; the overlap between victims and offenders, particularly in violence, is substantial. Little is known, however, about law enforcement practices with respect to such “dual-role victims,” in general, or about the practices that maximize victim cooperation and/or help-seeking. The project’s objectives are to: • Form a foundation of instruments for collecting data on police behavior that reflect the perceived needs and expectations of dual-role victims; • Describe patterns of dual-role victims’ involvement in violent victimizations, and compare the patterns with those of other victims of violence; • Describe the cognitive schema that police apply to victims, and how if at all the placement of dual-role victims in those schema is distinctive; • Describe patterns of interaction between patrol officers and victims of violence, and compare patterns of interaction with dual-role victims with those of other victims of violence; • Describe patterns of investigative actions in cases of violent victimization, and compare patterns of action in cases of dual-role victims with those of other victims of violence. This multi-method project draws on data derived from: incident and investigative records on non-domestic violent crime; department policies; victim interviews (N=30); focus groups with police (N=20 officers and 10 detectives); incident review sessions; police personnel surveys (N=120), and systematic social observation of victim-police interactions (N=1,000 encounters). We hypothesize that police officers respond differently to the incidents that involve dual-role victims than to other incidents, and that detectives treat the cases involving dual-role victims differently. We will estimate these differences – in offense classification and downgrading, in investigative case assignment and actions, and in patrol officers’ behavior toward victims. With the SSO data we will analyze the encounter dynamics across sampling strata: cross-tabulating incident type by officers’ actions. We will also specify multivariate models that include other situational factors and estimate model parameters through regression analysis. Qualitative analysis will turn mainly on coding keywords and phrases to identify themes. Among the scholarly papers to be produced from this project are papers on: (1) the expectations and experiences of dual-role victims; (2) police conceptualizations of victims; (3) patrol officers’ responses to dual-role and other victims; (4) investigative efforts in case of dual-role and other victims. Additional products will include the instruments developed for the project that can be applied or adapted in other police organizations. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 13, 2016