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Kentucky's Response to the Lautenberg Act: Curbing Domestic Violence Among Police

NCJ Number
Kentucky Justice & Safety Research Bulletin Volume: 1 Issue: 2 Dated: February 1999 Pages: 1-12
Victor E. Kappeler
Date Published
12 pages
This study empirically investigated the impact of the Lautenberg Act on policing in Kentucky to determine whether a significant proportion of law enforcement agencies had been affected by the law and to determine whether a significant percentage of police officers would be forced to find alternative employment.
The Lautenberg Act, passed by Congress in 1996, prohibits individuals, including police officers, from owning firearms if they have ever been convicted of an act of domestic violence. Passed as an amendment to the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, the Lautenberg Act modifies the Gun Control Act of 1968 by prohibiting the possession of firearms by anyone who has been convicted of domestic violence. To determine the impact of the Lautenberg Act on Kentucky police officers, a 45-item survey was developed that measured basic demographic information and asked whether police agencies had or planned to have a domestic violence unit, whether they had a domestic violence policy, and whether they employed community policing. The survey also solicited information on the number of police officers convicted of domestic violence, police agency responses to convictions, and individual police officer actions to mitigate the effects of a conviction. Results showed that Kentucky police agencies were largely unaffected by the Lautenberg Act. Relatively few police officers and only a small percentage of police departments found police officers with domestic violence convictions. When these police officers were discovered, most had their convictions expunged. Although Kentucky police agencies were not very proactive in attempting to detect domestic violence among police officers, their efforts were not out of line with those of police agencies nationwide. 19 notes and 5 tables