Individuals – Dunford (1990)

Study Reference:

Dunford, F. W. (1990). System-initiated warrants for suspects of misdemeanor domestic assault: A pilot study. Justice Quarterly, 7,631-653.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Individuals; Focused; Reactive; Very rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

The study examined whether police-initiated warrants for individuals who had left prior to an officer’s arrival for cases of misdemeanor domestic violence assault had any impact on future victimization or recidivism.

How was the intervention evaluated?

Misdemeanor domestic violence assault cases in which an offender had left the premise prior to an officer’s arrival were randomly assigned to either receive the treatment (official initiated warrant) or not (officers took complaints from victims and advised them of their right to apply for a warrant themselves) from March 1986 to October 1987. Official recidivism data (after 6 months and 12 months) and three waves of victim reports (after 1 week, 6 months, and 12 months) were collected.

What were the key findings?

Those cases assigned to receive a warrant had lower rates of recidivism compared to those cases in which officers advised victims to initiate a warrant against the offender themselves. Additionally, those assigned to the treatment group took longer to recidivate than did the no-warrant group.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that police-initiated warrants for the arrests of those absent from the scene of a domestic assault in Omaha appear to be more effective in reducing the likelihood of subsequent violence than simply advising victims of their rights and telling them how to obtain a warrant for a suspect’s arrest. Nevertheless, replication is required before the effect of police-initiated warrants in such cases are understood and can be generalized to other jurisdictions.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?