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Process Evaluation of the Durham Arrest Policies Project, April 1999

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 1999
18 pages
This case study, based on a site visit in April 1999, focused on the creation and implementation of the domestic violence unit (DVU) in the Durham Police Department (North Carolina).
The study focused on the early stages of the project, its current operations, and future plans. Relevant laws are profiled, as are the project objectives, planning implementation, resources, interagency collaboration, and the information management system. Operating under a pro-arrest policy, the Durham Police Department views domestic violence as a crime that requires direct police intervention and a coordinated community response. The goal of an officer who responds to a domestic incident is to reduce the possibility of violence and threats toward the victim and to conduct a thorough investigation. Under the grant for the creation of a DVU, the department established a committee to select officers to work in the DVU. By June 30, 1997, all personnel for the unit had been selected, and the unit became fully operational with four police investigators and one sergeant. With the assistance of the domestic violence coalition and the domestic violence prosecutor, the unit began developing its policies and procedures as well as letters, reports, and other forms. Initially, the unit only conducted follow-up investigations for domestic violence cases; however, it discovered the poor quality of incident reports written by patrol officers and the lack of evidence collected at the scene; therefore, the unit decided to expand and provide field response along with follow-up investigations. The goals of the unit have been to decrease the number of domestic homicides in the city, provide adequate relief options to victims of domestic violence, and increase the number of on-scene arrests and the level of documentation of domestic violence incidents. This report details unit operations in administration, field response, and investigations. Although the unit has been effective in some areas (victim satisfaction and increased prosecution), there are some refinements that can be made to enhance the unit's work as well as the overall approach to combating domestic violence. Recommendations pertain to increasing the field response, involving probation offices in the response to domestic violence, improving advocacy, and improving a coordinated community response to domestic violence.

Date Published: April 1, 1999