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Richmond's Second Responders: Partnering with Police Against Domestic Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2005
21 pages

This report evaluated the Second Responder Program of Richmond, VA, specifically the program’s practice of sending social workers to scenes of domestic violence while officers responding to the incident are still on site.


Major findings from the evaluation include: (1) the treatment group received more social services than the control group and rated the second responders very highly on major measures of satisfaction; (2) the treatment group also received more services from police than the control group did and were more satisfied with how officers handled their situation; (3) the treatment group reported that they experienced less abuse than the control group during the 6 months after intervention; and (4) researchers and practitioners can both benefit by collaborating in second responder-type programs, but a successful partnership requires the commitment of police agencies, open communication, and a focus on the shared goal of fostering violence-free lives. The research suggests that police perform better when social workers are present and that women who receive an immediate social service response at the time of the incident may experience less repeat violence. The second responders of Richmond are employed by the Department of Social Services (DSS) and based in the first and second of Richmond’s four police precincts. This arrangement allows them to interact informally with police officers and participate frequently in roll call. They are summoned to the scene of domestic violence by 911 dispatchers or patrol officers who respond to domestic violence incidents. After determining the nature of the problem, the second responders go into action and join the police at the site of the call. An evaluation on the effectiveness of the Second Responder Program in Richmond was based on two waves of interviews with victims of domestic violence. The study by the Police Foundation was a quasi-experimental design that compared the treatment group in the first and second precincts with a control group that was drawn from the two remaining precincts and received a conventional response. Tables, references