Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges

Published June 2009

Chapter 1. Overview of Domestic Violence

Section 2 — What percentage of calls to police are to report domestic violence?

Domestic violence-related police calls have been found to constitute the single largest category of calls received by police, accounting for 15 to more than 50 percent of all calls. [114, 68] Not all domestic violence calls are for activities that constitute crimes. Several New York studies, for example, found that 65 percent of such calls in upstate New York pertained to criminal conduct. In New York City, the police department found that 35 percent of reports pertained to specific chargeable index or other criminal offenses. [165, 184] In San Diego, approximately 25 percent of calls for service in domestic violence cases result in an arrest. [196]

Implications for Law Enforcement

Given the large numbers adversely affected by domestic violence and that victims' prime countermeasure — leaving their abusers — may not stop the abuse, law enforcement agencies must commit time, resources and attention to domestic violence as they do to confront any other major crime. For this reason, all law enforcement agencies should have a domestic violence policy that specifies, at a minimum, that written reports be completed on all domestic violence calls and, if no arrest is made, the reports fully explain the circumstances why not. (Research basis: Disparate national surveys, supplemented by local police department studies.)

Performance Measure: A total of 77 percent of police departments have written operational procedures for responding to emergency domestic violence calls, and larger departments are most likely to have such written procedures. Most procedures include requiring the dispatcher to ask about weapons, check for protection orders, and advise the caller to stay on the line until police arrive. [213] (Research basis: Representative sample of 368 drawn from 14,000 law enforcement agencies across the nation.)

Implications for Prosecutors and Judges

Given the large numbers adversely affected by domestic violence and that victims' prime countermeasure — leaving their abusers — may not stop the abuse, and given the amount of time committed to responding to domestic violence calls and arresting and prosecuting alleged offenders, prosecutors and judges must commit sufficient resources and attention to ensure that domestic violence cases are handled efficiently and effectively. (Research basis: Disparate national surveys, supplemented by local police department and prosecution studies.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009