Individuals – Ruiz (2021)

Study Reference:

Ruiz, C. (2021). Going the extra mile: The influence of additional police follow-up on couples of domestic violence (Publication No. 28644049) [Master’s thesis, Florida State University]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Individuals; Focused; Reactive; Moderately Rigorous; Mixed effects

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study evaluated the Domestic Violence Initiative (DVI) implemented in Modesto, California from June 1, 2020 through December 17, 2020. This program was modeled after Chula Vista Police Department’s Domestic Abuse Response Team program. Officers dispatched to domestic-violence related calls would arrive to the scene and conduct business as usual. At the end of the incident, officers would distribute domestic violence pamphlets to the involved parties. In non-criminal incidents, pamphlets were distributed to both parties containing tips on de-escalation of arguments as well as a message about the Modesto Police Department’s (MPD) new approach to domestic violence incidents. In criminal incidents, victims received pamphlets with tips to de-escalate situations, information on the domestic violence abuse cycle, and phone numbers for local resources. Suspects were also given (and read aloud) a pamphlet with messages on the wrongfulness of domestic violence as well as a message that MPD was taking extra steps to prevent future incidents of domestic violence. A check-in text message was sent to couples (in non-criminal incidents) and victims (in criminal incidents) within a week of the initial incident, providing a link to a quick survey containing questions about their current situation. Detectives would also conduct in-person follow-up visits to houses with domestic violence calls, providing information about domestic violence and local resources.

How was the intervention evaluated?

A quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the intervention. The treatment group included all couples in the Northwest sector of Modesto that were involved in a domestic violence incident, while the control group included all couples in the Northeast sector of Modesto that were involved in a domestic violence incident. Couples from the Northeast sector were chosen as the control group because this area had a similar population size, economic status, and baseline levels of domestic violence as the Northwest sector. The researchers evaluated the DVI intervention based on the amount of repeat domestic violence calls, amount of time that passed between repeat calls, and the level of violence pursued in repeat calls (measured using the Cambridge Crime Harm Index). Since not all couples received all three follow-up types (pamphlet, text message, and detective follow up), as not every follow-up attempt was a successful contact, separate analyses were conducted for each component of the intervention.

What were the key findings?

Couples who received a follow-up from a detective, received a pamphlet, and those who received all three interventions were significantly more likely to report repeat domestic violence incidents compared to those who did not receive the intervention. However, the study did find that treatment couples experienced significantly less average harm during these repeat domestic violence incidents (significant findings for all models except text model). Additionally, the study found a higher average number of days between repeat incidents for couples receiving the intervention, however, this was not statistically significant.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The author suggests that a more active police role in domestic violence incidents will lead to more repeat calls for service, however, this does not worsen incidents. Instead, the author concludes that couples receiving the intervention may be more likely to call the police in repeat domestic violence incidents. They also highlight the importance of redefining a successful intervention, with the intervention’s success moving past its reduction in crime/calls.

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