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Public's and Police Officers' Interpretation and Handling of Domestic Violence Cases: Divergent Realities

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 21 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2006 Pages: 1129-1155
Loretta J. Stalans; Mary A. Finn
Date Published
September 2006
27 pages
This study examined police officer's and the public's opinion about domestic violence.
The public's and police officers' interpretation and handling of realistic hypothetical domestic violence cases and their stereotypic views about domestic violence are discussed. A sample of 131 experienced officers, 127 novice officers, and 157 adult laypersons were randomly assigned to read a domestic violence case. Experienced officers were more likely to arrest only the husband than were laypersons or rookie officers even when respondents inferred that the husband was primarily responsible or had used violence before. Experienced officers considered their stereotypic beliefs about battered women's propensity to use self-defense in arriving at their arrest decision whereas laypersons and rookie officers did not. These findings indicate that the public and police officers have not adopted the feminists' message that arrest is the best response to handle all domestic violence cases. Policy implications are discussed. (Published Abstract)