Police Evaluations of Intimate Partner Violence in Heterosexual and Same-Sex Relationships: Do Experience and Training Play a Role?
In recent years, law enforcement agencies have enhanced intimate partner violence (IPV) policies and increased the frequency of required training. Yet, there is limited research that addresses how experience and training are related to evaluations of heterosexual and same-sex disputants in an IPV incident. This research investigates how officers perceive heterosexual and same-sex disputants in IPV incidents and examines how officer experience, frequency, and recency of required IPV training affect evaluations. Law enforcement officers (n = 309) across 27 states responded to a hypothetical scenario of an IPV incident between a heterosexual or same-sex couple. Dependent variables included perpetrator and victim arrest, perceived fairness of non-arrest options, willingness to provide referrals for perpetrator and victim, and severity of victim injury. Officers believed that the use of some non-arrest options was fairer when the perpetrator was a gay male or heterosexual female and there were no significant effects for arrest options. Referrals to a domestic violence hotline and injury severity varied by perpetrator and victim gender and sexual orientation. While officer experience played a role in non-arrest options, frequency and recency of officer training were not related to dependent variables of interest. Officers embrace evaluations of IPV that demonstrate differential evaluations of the incident as a result of gender and sexual orientation. These evaluations may have implications for the legitimacy of claims and safety and justice for victims and officers.
KeywordsPolice Officer Evaluations Same sex LGBT Sexual minorities Arrest Non-arrest Gender Training Experience Injury
I would like to thank Howie Mintzer for his assistance in creating the database and Brandon Fisher for her assistance with data and literature review.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This project has been approved by the Penn State IRB. The authors followed ethical guidelines provided by the American Psychological Association and the Institutional Review Board to promote accuracy, honest, and truthfulness of science and maximize benefits and minimize harm. Participants provided informed consent and responses were completely anonymous. The authors are not aware of conflicts between ethics and the other organizations and consultants. This research was not funded.
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