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Twenty Years of Mandatory Arrest: Police Decision Making in the Face of Legal Requirements

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 21 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2010 Pages: 98-118
Scott W. Phillips; James J. Sobol
Date Published
March 2010
21 pages
This study examined officers' decisionmaking in relation to specific legal elements of a domestic violence incident.
More than 20 years ago, State legislation began moving toward a mandatory arrest approach for police officers who handle domestic violence. It is expected that officers have shifted from an "underenforcement" orientation toward proenforcement. To examine this hypothesis, this study integrated elements of New York State domestic violence legislation into vignettes. Officers from one large department in New York State completed surveys with multiple vignettes. More than 80 percent of the officers were likely or very likely to arrest in all vignettes. Arrest was more likely when there was a visible injury, when there was an order of protection, and when the suspect was disrespectful. The victim's preference for no arrest is not significant in officers' decisionmaking. Policy implications and directions for additional research are discussed. Tables, appendixes, notes, and references (Published Abstract)