Doctor of Philosophy
Jaffe, Peter G.
This integrated-article dissertation focused on the critical role of police in responding to domestic violence (DV) and recognizing the potential risk of adult and child homicides. The first study examined the police role in domestic homicide through an analysis of cases reviewed by the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee in Ontario, Canada. Homicide cases with police contact were found to have 1.6 times more risk factors compared to those without police contact. Cases also show an overall scarcity of formal risk assessments, even when there was prior police contact. The second study was a national survey on the types of structured tools Canadian police officers report utilizing in their risk assessment strategies. Despite police officers reporting frequent use of risk assessments, there was inconsistency in the type of tools utilized other than Ontario police officers who had a preference for the Ontario Domestic Abuse Risk Assessment. The third study involved interviews with police officers to obtain their perspectives on their role in assessing risk for families. Qualitative analyses indicated that police officers face multiple challenges in responding to DV including barriers at the systemic (i.e., lack of collaboration with justice/community partners), organizational (i.e., lack of resources, inapplicable tools), and officer (i.e., lack of awareness/training) levels. The fourth study addressed police officers' perspectives on the barriers and promising practices in providing services to children at the scenes of DV occurrences. The study raised themes on the lack of training in dealing with children and the distrust of many families to mandated agencies like Police and Child Protection.
Overall the four studies highlight the critical role that police can play in potentially preventing deaths related to domestic homicide. Police are involved in high risk and complex cases that require the best possible risk assessment and intervention. Police identified promising practices for change. Officers know that they cannot succeed on their own and require enhanced community collaboration to address DV. These studies call for strengthening efforts at police training and further research to evaluate the effectiveness of their assessments and interventions as well as their collaboration with community partners.
Summary for Lay Audience
This project is presented in four separate papers examining the police response to domestic violence. The first study evaluated domestic homicide data to see if differences existed in cases that had prior police involvement. Results indicated that homicide cases with police involvement had more risk factors prior to the deaths, however very few had a formal risk assessment completed. The second study was a national survey on the types of tools Canadian police officers utilize in their risk assessment. Results suggested that many officers say they use risk assessment tools but there was large variability in the types of tools being used. The third and fourth studies involved interviews with police officers to obtain their perspectives on assessing and responding to domestic violence for families. Results indicated that police officers face multiple challenges in responding to domestic violence including barriers at larger levels (i.e., legal system) as well as barriers specific to officers. Overall the four studies highlight the role that police play in preventing deaths related to domestic violence. Police are involved in high risk and complex cases that require the best possible risk assessment and intervention. Officers know that they cannot succeed on their own and require community collaboration to address domestic violence. These studies call for strengthening police training and further research to examine the effectiveness of their assessments and interventions as well as their collaboration with community partners.
Saxton, Michael D., "Police Prevention of Domestic Homicide: Missed Opportunities and Barriers to Change" (2019). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6814.
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