Individuals – Greenspan et al. (2005)

Study Reference:

Greenspan, R., Weisburd, D., Lane, E., Ready, J., & Crossen‐Powell, S.(2005). Richmond's Second Responders: Partnering with Police Against Domestic Violence. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Individuals; Focused; Reactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study evaluated the Second Responder Program, a joint initiative of the Richmond Police Department and the Richmond Department of Social Services (DSS) in Richmond, Virginia, aimed at reducing repeat incidents of violence by informing victims about their options for leaving abusive relationships and accessing social services. The program dispatched social workers to domestic violence scenes while police officers were still present, ensuring the victims' and their families' safety and needs were met. Second responders provided information on DSS and other agency assistance, helped develop service plans, and facilitated access to emergency shelters, support systems, essentials like food and baby supplies, as well as transportation and bus tickets for critical appointments.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The study employed a quasi-experimental design, comparing the treatment group from the first and second police precincts to a control group from the two remaining precincts, which received standard police responses. More specifically, the authors compared households in two targeted precincts that received a second intervention for family violence cases with those in two other precincts without such a program. The treatment and control groups were comparable across a series of demographic characteristics. The evaluation was based on two waves of interviews with domestic violence victims: the first was conducted within a few days of the incident, and the second after a six-month period. In the first wave, interviews were conducted with eighty women who had received the intervention and seventy-eight women who had not. In the second wave, sixty women from each group were interviewed.

What were the key findings?

During the six months post-intervention, the treatment group experienced less abuse, with 20 percent reporting victimization compared to 35 percent in the control group. Additionally, even though both groups reported similar levels of abuse before the intervention, the treatment group witnessed a significant reduction in abusive acts afterwards, with a mean of 2.30 events compared to the control group's 12.42 events. Furthermore, the treatment group received more police services than the control group and expressed greater satisfaction with the officers' response.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

While findings from other studies on second responder programs often raise questions about their efficacy, this study suggests that they may be effective in certain contexts. The authors argue that police practitioners could benefit from collaborating with social service practitioners on such programs, though a successful partnership would likely necessitate committed involvement from the agencies, open communication, and a concerted focus on the shared objective of promoting violence-free lives​​.

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