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Law Enforcement Response to Domestic Violence Calls for Service, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2005
108 pages
This study determined current written practices and procedures of law enforcement agencies across the Nation regarding their responses to domestic-violence calls for service.
Findings show that 77 percent of police departments have written procedures for responding to domestic-violence calls for service. Fifty-five percent of the departments have revised their initial policies, with most updating them to reflect changes in State law. Approximately 80 percent of the departments consider domestic relationships to include spouses, cohabitants, and parents of a common child. Departments were more likely to specify basic procedures on dispatching, questions to ask, and to prioritizing calls than to state procedures for interacting with victims. Most departments included procedures for arrests, handling violations of protection orders, and conducting on-scene investigations. There was some variation in what was required of call-takers in responding to emergency domestic-violence calls. Departments required officers to engage in a range of activities when dealing with victims and child witnesses of domestic violence. Also, most departments had procedures to increase officer accountability in responding to domestic-violence calls. More departments require officers to receive specialized domestic-violence training than require training for call-takers and dispatchers. Few departments had established domestic violence special units. Although many departments had partnerships with victim advocacy groups, few had advocates working within the department. Larger agencies were more likely to have a domestic-violence policy. The few agencies that included domestic-violence information on their Web sites emphasized services for victims and victim safety. This report identifies policy areas that require further consideration. These findings are based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of just over 14,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, supplemented with findings from 9 interviews with community-based domestic-violence victim advocacy groups and focus studies with 3 law enforcement agencies. Extensive tabular data and appended survey questionnaire

Date Published: February 1, 2005