Police Officers and Domestic Violence

Subject: Law
Pages: 3
Words: 554
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: Bachelor

In their article, Horwitz et al. (2011) aim to investigate the experience of those police officers, who had experience with domestic violence (DV). The authors state that they try to fill a gap in the academic literature by collecting and analyzing information on the views of officers to decrease DM. Considering that the concept of domestic violence is not clearly determined, and it is often classified as other offenses, the problem seems to be relevant. For example, it is noted that many victims of DM have poor access to police and are often disappointed or frustrated to seek help. While the authors do not clearly pose a research question, it can be formulated as follows: What are the views of police officers on reducing domestic violence to improve public health based on their experience?

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To answer the research question, the authors use the method of surveys, focusing on the upstate New York police department and employing 22 police officers as participants. They were offered a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation that summarized the findings of the qualitative study that was conducted earlier (Horwitz et al., 2011). The current study participants were asked to share their views on the understanding of the roles and preparedness of the police, victims asking for help, and other details. The primary goal was to provide recommendations on improving police responses and the potential contribution of other professionals, including attorneys, medical staff, and so on. The process of collecting data paid attention to all the phases of the police work, from a 911 call to arrest, referrals, paperwork, and court appearances. Data analysis was based on the constant comparative method that implies categorizing and coding processes.

The first finding of this study refers to a set of barriers that prevent victims from accessing proper help. This set includes a lack of collaboration between police officers and other involved professionals, low prosecution rates, and no feedback regarding the work of the police in addressing DM (Horwitz et al., 2011). The second finding is associated with the suggested changes, which are directed towards decreasing recidivism rates and empathetic assistance. Namely, a better collaboration, harsher penalties, higher prosecution rates, and debriefing provision are mentioned. These findings allow the authors of the article to assume that a community agenda is needed to improve the current situation and ensure that a coordinated help would be provided. More to the point, tt should be stressed that the authors refer to the findings by other scholars to support and interpret their results, which makes this article credible and comprehensive.

Personally, I have learned that the concept of domestic violence is not directly identified in many locations, which leads to different police responses. Misdemeanor, violation, or felony offense with varying degrees of severity can be used, which creates additional complexity to help the victims. Another concept is the complexity of the DM problem as it includes not only the factors that aggravate the offenses but also such a notion as chronicity in terms of the justice system. In addition, complexity implies that some police officers feel disappointment, frustration, and are likely to blame the victim for the misdemeanor. The following question appears: How to help the police officers in addressing stigma towards DM victims, mainly females, and overcoming the feelings of powerlessness and frustration in the course of their response?


Horwitz, S. H., Mitchell, D., LaRussa-Trott, M., Santiago, L., Pearson, J., Skiff, D. M., & Cerulli, C. (2011). An inside view of police officers’ experience with domestic violence. Journal of Family Violence, 26(8), 617-625.