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Police response to domestic violence: multilevel factors of arrest decision

Joongyeup Lee (School of Public Affairs, Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg, Middletown, Pennsylvania, USA)
Yan Zhang (College of Criminal Justice, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)
Larry T. Hoover (College of Criminal Justice, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 1 March 2013

3268

Abstract

Purpose

Police factor in extra‐legal as well as legal context in their decision to arrest a suspect. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of extra‐legal factors at both situational and neighborhood levels.

Design/methodology/approach

Using hierarchical generalized linear modeling, over 9,000 domestic violence cases across 421 census tracts in Houston, Texas were examined. Situational information was derived from police reports, and neighborhood factors were measured by population characteristics drawn from the US Census Bureau. The model also controls for spatial autocorrelation of arrest rates between census tracts in the estimation of officer's arrest decision.

Findings

At the neighborhood level, concentrated disadvantage and immigration concentration had positive effect on the odds of arrest. At the situational level, the time of day, day of the week, premise type, and gender and racial relations between suspect and complainant, along with offense type and weapons use, had significant impact.

Originality/value

The scant literature has not yet provided an affirmative set of extra‐legal factors affecting police arrest decision. The paper's findings may contribute to the literature and suggest the need for guidelines concerning officer discretion exercised in the line of duty.

Keywords

Citation

Lee, J., Zhang, Y. and Hoover, L.T. (2013), "Police response to domestic violence: multilevel factors of arrest decision", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 157-174. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639511311302524

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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