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Durham, North Carolina, Arrest Policies Project: A Process Evaluation on Site April 1999

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2000
19 pages
This report presents the methodology, findings, and recommendations from a process evaluation of the Durham Arrest Policies Program (North Carolina), which is a Federal grant program intended to encourage jurisdictions to implement mandatory or proarrest policies as an effective domestic-violence intervention that is part of a coordinated community response to domestic violence.
This report describes the early stages of the project, its current operations, and future plans. Relevant laws are discussed, along with project objectives, planning implementation, resources, interagency collaboration, and the information management system. The overall goal of Durham's Arrest Project is to ensure victim safety and offender accountability by conducting thorough police investigations of domestic-violence cases and by developing interagency collaboration. The Orange/Durham Coalition for Battered Women became the nonprofit partner with the police department in designing and implementing the Arrest Project. This coalition has evolved over the years to provide numerous services for battered women and their children. Prior to Arrest Policies funding, no special attention was given to domestic violence incidents in Durham. By June 30, 1997, all personnel for the Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) 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. Although initially the DVU conducted only follow-up investigations of domestic-violence cases, the unit decided to expand and provide field response along with follow-up investigation, largely because of the poor quality of incident reports by patrol officers and the lack of evidence-collection at the scene. This report describes DVU operations in administration, field response, and investigations. An information management system was developed to track domestic violence cases; it is linked to the domestic violence prosecutor's office. The evaluation concluded that the Durham Police Department has done an excellent job in implementing and operating the DVU. Although the DVU has been successful in some areas (victim satisfaction and increased prosecution), however, there are some improvements that can be made to enhance the unit and the overall approach to domestic violence. Recommendations are offered for increasing field response to domestic violence, involving probation, improving victim advocacy, and developing a coordinated community response to domestic violence. In the latter case, the report advises that if arrest policies are to be effective, police, pretrial services, prosecutors, judges, probation officers, patrol officers, and victim advocates must collaborate to enhance victim safety and ensure appropriate sanctions for offenders.

Date Published: February 1, 2000