Custom Search

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fox In The Henhouse: A Study Of Police Officers Arrested For Crimes Associated With Domestic And/Or Family Violence


FOX IN THE HENHOUSE: A STUDY OF POLICE OFFICERS ARRESTED FOR CRIMES ASSOCIATED WITH DOMESTIC AND/OR FAMILY VIOLENCE; Philip Matthew Stinson, Sr. and John Liederbach, University of Pennsylvania - Criminal Justice Policy Review published online 28 August 2012 - Supported by Award No. 2011-IJ-CX-0024, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U. S. Department of Justice [LINK]

[EXCERPTS]

On the afternoon of April 26, 2003 Tacoma (WA) Police Chief David Brame shot and killed his estranged wife Crystal and then himself in front of their two young children in the parking lot of a local strip-mall...

... There are no comprehensive statistics available on OIDV, and no government entity collects data on the criminal conviction of police officers for crimes associated with domestic and/or family violence...

... There have been a small number of studies based on data derived from self-administered officer surveys that estimate the prevalence of OIDV; but, the self-report method is limited by the tendency to provide socially desirable responses, as well as the interests of officers to maintain a “code of silence” to both protect their careers and keep episodes of violence within their families hidden from scrutiny. The purpose of the current study is to provide empirical data on OIDV cases. Our research identifies and describes incidents in which police were arrested for criminal offenses associated with an incident of family and/or domestic violence through a content analysis of published newspaper articles...

... More broadly, our aim is to provide information on actual OIDV cases to inform policies and further initiatives designed to mitigate the problem...

... The literature on OIDV is replete with anecdotes that underscore the occupationally derived etiology of violence within police families, but there have been very few empirical studies designed to estimate the prevalence of OIDV—all of them based on self-administered surveys of police and/or their spouses. Johnson (1991) reported that 40% of responding officers admitted that they had behaved violently toward their spouse at least once during the previous six months, and 20% of the spouses in a concurrent survey reported that their spouse had abused either them or their children in the previous six months. Neidig, Russell, and Seng (1992) and Neidig, Seng, and Russell (1992) reported that 41% of responding male officers admitted that at least one incident of physical aggression occurred in their marital relationship during the previous year, and 8% of those reported the occurrence of “severe” physical aggression including choking, strangling, and/or the use or threatened use of a knife or gun (Neidig, Russell, et al., 1992, p. 32). These studies reported significantly higher rates of domestic violence among officers who were currently divorced or separated from their spouses. Gershon (2000, 2009) reports much lower rates of self-reported physical abuse (less than 10%) among officers in the only study that utilizes police surveys to estimate the prevalence of OIDV since enactment of the Lautenberg Amendment (1996). Lonsway (2006) suggests that enactment of the amendment and associated penalties that would presumably end the career of any officer convicted of a domestic violence crime may exacerbate the tendency to underreport OIDV in self-report questionnaires...

... Data for the present study were collected as part of a larger study on police crime. The larger study was designed to locate cases in which sworn law enforcement officers had been arrested for any type of criminal offense(s). Data were derived from published news articles using the Google News search engine and its Google Alerts email update service. Automated daily queries of the Google News search engine can be performed with user-defined search terms previously entered into the Google Alerts application. The Google Alerts tool sends an automated email message that notifies the user whenever the daily search identifies news articles that match the designated search terms. The automated alert contains a link to the URL for the news article. The larger study on police crime identified 2,119 criminal cases that involved the arrest of 1,746 sworn officers during the period of January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007. The arrested officers were employed by 1,047 nonfederal law enforcement agencies representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia...

... The criminal charge(s) in some cases of family and/or domestic violence identified in the larger study clearly did not correspond to the underlying nature of the criminal act(s) described in the news articles—a situation that suggests preferential charging decisions were made either as a professional courtesy and/or to protect the arrested officer from penalties associated with the Lautenberg Amendment (1996) that bars any person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing a gun...

... The research team located and printed news articles after the Google Alerts tool sent an automated email message indicating that the daily news searches had identified an article(s) that matched one of 48 search terms. These articles were examined for relevancy and archived for subsequent coding and analyses. Each of the 2,119 criminal cases identified in the larger study were coded in terms of the (a) arrested officer, (b) each of the charged offenses, (c) employing agency, (d) victim characteristics and (e) organizational outcomes and criminal case dispositions...

... There are three primary limitations of these data. First, our research is limited by the content and quality of information provided on each case. The amount of information on each case varied, and data for some of the variables of interest were missing for some of the cases. Second, the data are limited to cases that involved an official arrest. We do not have any data on OIDV cases that did not come to the attention of police, nor do we have information on cases that did not result in an arrest. Finally, it should be recognized that these data are the result of a filtering process that includes the exercise of discretion by media sources in terms of both the types of stories covered and the nature of the content devoted to particular stories (Carlson, 2007)...

... The news searches identified 324 cases in which police were arrested for a criminal offense associated with an incident of OIDV. The cases involved the arrest of 281 officers employed by 226 law enforcement agencies. Some of the officers had multiple criminal cases (n = 43) and/or multiple victims (n = 24). There were 70 OIDV cases during 2005, 116 cases in 2006, and 138 cases in 2007. The percentage of total police crimes that were OIDV cases remained relatively stable from 2005 (17.2%) to 2007 (16%). The remainder of this section is organized in four parts...

... Officer involved domestic violence (OIDV) has emerged as an important issue for criminal justice scholars, practitioners, and citizens in the wake of the high-profile murder of police spouse Crystal Brame and the enactment of laws and policies designed to identify and punish violence in police families...

... OIDV victims are distinguished from other domestic violence victims because the abuser is among those expected to enforce domestic violence statutes; a “fox in the henhouse” problem described by Ammons (2005) in her essay on the topic and utilized in our title phrase to underscore the unique vulnerabilities of OIDV victims who have “nowhere to go, no way to escape, and very few people to protect them” (p. 30). The problem defies easy solutions, but Florida’s innovative Law Enforcement Families Partnership (LEFP) offers practical strategies to address some of the problems encountered by OIDV victims in their Model Policy on Officer-Involved Domestic Violence (2010; Oehme & Martin, 2011; Oehme et al., 2011). The policy advocates prevention through collaboration between police agencies and domestic violence advocacy organizations...

... In this study only 32% of convicted officers who had been charged with misdemeanor domestic assault are known to have lost their jobs as police officers. Of course, it is possible that news sources did not report other instances where officers were terminated or quit; but, many of the police convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault are known to be still employed as sworn law enforcement officers who routinely carry firearms daily even though doing so is a violation of the Lautenberg Amendment prohibition punishable by up to ten years in federal prison. Equally troubling is the fact that many of the officers identified in our study committed assault-related offenses but were never charged with a specific Lautenberg-qualifying offense. In numerous instances, officers received professional courtesies of very favorable plea bargains where they readily agreed to plead guilty to any offense that did not trigger the firearm prohibitions of the Lautenberg Amendment...

... This project was supported by Award No. 2011-IJ-CX-0024, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U. S. Department of Justice...

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article and study. Thank you.

    Rod Reder
    National Institute of Crime Prevention

    ReplyDelete

Please post updates or email them to behindthebluewall@gmail.com. No cop-hating or victim-hating comments allowed. Word verification had to be added due to spam attacks on this blog.