, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 617-625

An Inside View of Police Officers’ Experience with Domestic Violence

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Abstract

Since the recognition of domestic violence (DV) in the late 1970s, police officers have been frontline providers. Despite their changing role as a result of the criminalization of DV, little is known about their experiences and responses to this public health issue from their unique perspective. Via focus groups, 22 police officers discussed their scope of practice and emotional reactions to DV calls. Participants reported frustration with the recurring nature of DV and with the larger systems’ lack of accountability (e.g., courts, prosecution and community) that follow their initial interventions. Participants discussed the limitations of their role as protectors of public safety, attitudes that evolve over time and their beliefs as to contributing factors that perpetuate DV. Additionally, the officers recommend: more professional training, counseling, incident debriefing for officers including feedback on case disposition, better collaboration across professional groups, and evidence-based prosecution. Harsher penalties were also recommended.