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Stalking: Its Role in Serious Domestic Violence Cases, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
21 pages
This study examined the prevalence of stalking allegations in domestic violence crime reports generated by the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD), risk factors associated with domestic violence stalking, the frequency with which suspects of intimate partner stalking were charged with stalking, presenting conditions in domestic violence crime reports, and whether law enforcement outcomes in domestic violence crime reports with stalking allegations differed significantly from those without stalking allegations.
The study sample consisted of 1,785 misdemeanor and felony crimes reported to the CSPD during April-September 1998 that involved victims and suspects who were current and former spouses, cohabiting partners, dates, boyfriends, and girlfriends. The prevalence of stalking allegations was estimated using information extracted from victim and police narratives and bivariate analysis. Of the 1,785 domestic violence reports included in the study sample, only 1 resulted in the police officer formally charging the suspect with stalking. This figure was considered an accurate representation of stalking prevalence, however, and the study examined the frequency with which the victim and/or the police officer stated in their respective narratives that the suspect stalked the victim or engaged in stalking-like behavior. Of the 1,785 domestic violence crime reports, 1,731 or 97 percent had a victim narrative, a police narrative, or both, and therefore could be used to estimate stalking prevalence. In 285 or 16.5 percent of these reports, either the victim or the police officer indicated the suspect stalked the victim or engaged in stalking-like behavior. In most reports that contained evidence the suspect stalked the victim, neither the victim nor the police officer used the word stalking in their respective narratives. Women were the primary victims of intimate partner stalking. Domestic violence crime reports with stalking allegations exhibited significantly different presenting conditions during the initial interview with the police than reports without such allegations. Victims who were stalked by their partners were significantly more likely to have been the person who made the report to the police and to request notification of future action on the case. Domestic violence crime reports with stalking allegations were significantly less likely to identify physical abuse and victim injury, to involve suspects and victims who were using alcohol at the time of the incident, to involve households with children, and to involve victims who were emotionally distraught at the time of the initial interview. Domestic violence crime reports with stalking allegations did not result in law enforcement outcomes that were significantly different than reports without stalking allegations. Although police officers were less likely to issue a companion summons or to arrest a suspect if the report contained stalking allegations, they were nearly equally likely to place items in evidence or charge the suspect with a felony. Reasons why police officers failed to charge intimate partner stalkers with the crime of stalking are discussed. 15 references, 5 tables, and 1 figure

Date Published: January 1, 2001