Police Interactions with Victims of Violence

It is well-known that people who are involved in criminal behavior are also more likely to be victimized; the overlap between victims and offenders, particularly in violence, is substantial.  Little is known, however, about law enforcement practices with respect to such “dual-role victims,” in general, or about the practices that maximize victim cooperation and/or help-seeking.  We hypothesize that police officers respond differently to the incidents that involve dual-role victims than to other incidents, and that detectives treat the cases involving dual-role victims differently.  We will estimate these differences – in offense classification and downgrading, in investigative case assignment and actions, and in patrol officers’ behavior toward victims.  Focusing on the Schenectady (NY) Police Department, this multi-method project draws on data derived from: incident and investigative records on non-domestic violent crime; department policies; victim interviews; focus groups with police officers and detectives; incident review sessions; police personnel surveys; and systematic social observation of victim-police interactions.

Supported by the National Institute of Justice [January, 2017 – September, 2019]