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An Evaluation of Kentucky's Sexual Assault Investigator Training: Results From a Randomized Three-Group Experiment

NCJ Number
Journal of Experimental Criminology Volume: 16 Dated: 2020 Pages: 625-647
Bradley A. Campbell; David. S. Lapsey Jr.; William Wells
Date Published
23 pages
This study evaluated a 40-hour statewide sexual assault investigations training program implemented in Kentucky in 2017, focusing on short- and long-term effects of the training on police officers' self-reported rape myth acceptance, knowledge of state laws, and knowledge of trauma-informed practices.
Using a randomized design to control for pre-test sensitization, training courses were assigned to three groups: Group A (pre- and post-training assessment), Group B (post-training only assessment), and Group C (pre-training only assessment). Mean scores for rape myth acceptance, knowledge of state laws, and trauma-informed practices were compared, using t tests to assess differences between Group A's pre- and post-test scores, as well as differences between Group B's post-test and Group C's pre-test scores. OLS models were estimated to assess the effects of training between treatment (Groups A and B) and control (Group C) groups. Follow-up assessments were sent to participants to examine long-term training effects on all outcome variables. Findings indicate that training was effective in reducing rape myth acceptance and increasing knowledge of state laws and knowledge of trauma-informed practices. These effects remained stable over time, evidenced by analyses of data from follow-up assessments. Finally, the pre-test did not have a priming effect on any outcome variables. The overall conclusion is that sexual assault training can be effective in improving police perceptions of victims and knowledge of laws and trauma-informed practices for sexual assault investigations. The study also provided evidence that three-group experimental designs are feasible for evaluating law enforcement training programs. 64 references (publisher abstract modified)