Another way for police officers to make mistakes in interviewing victims of domestic violence is lack of knowledge of interview guidelines that also has implications on the merit of existing guidelines in handling domestic violence cases including the interview process. Guidelines reflect the developments in the policies of law enforcement agencies towards domestic violence and dealing with victims. Effective guidelines hold dual importance. One is in providing effective means of helping victims of domestic violence by influencing the appropriate attitude towards domestic violence.
Guidelines should provide that “the police should treat assaults in the home as seriously as they do assaults in other places and should be ready to arrest the assailant on the spot where there is evidence of an injury” (Hoyle, 1998, p. 2). The other is providing a check on the attitudes and behaviors of police officers in responding to domestic violence reports. This is because police intervention in domestic violence “in the absence of policy […] facilitates the making of individual judgments, often based on erroneous stereotypes” (Hoyle, 1998, p. 7).
Guidelines reflecting these roles should support the prevention or minimization of errors by police officers in interviewing victims of spousal abuse and other forms of domestic violence. An example of a model for domestic violence policies and processes is that issued by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (2002) based on consultation of various levels of the justice department. The policies on interviewing victims of domestic violence includes a checklist of ten items to ask victims such as previous incidents of threats or violence and mapping of the areas where injuries were inflicted.
On one hand, this supports the development of serious attitudes of police officers towards domestic violence. Having guide questions creates an atmosphere of formality that reflects the treatment of domestic violence as a serious crime similar to other violent crimes. On the other hand, the checklist focuses only on the information necessary to assess whether the case has merit and for purposes of reports or records. There are no checklists on best practices in the attitudes and behavior in interviewing and the skills or strategies in effectively dealing with victims of domestic violence during the interview.
The interview process itself is equally important to conducting the interview and the required informative outcome. Conducting interviews is useless and the informative outcome has serious flaws if the manner of conducting the interview is poor. There is need to incorporate interviewing skills reflective of the perspective of domestic violence as a serious crime and the prevention or resolution of the intervention of personal biases and stereotyping by police officers during the interview. Conclusion
Police officers may make mistakes or disregard certain things in the interview of the victims of domestic violence who are mostly female through their misinformed attitudes towards domestic violence as a crime and victims of domestic violence and limited understanding of or ineffective policies on interviewing victims. There is need for police officers to be aware of their attitudes during the interview to ensure that they keep to their role in protecting victims. Guidelines on best practices in interviewing victims are also important to minimize mistake.
References Buzawa, C. G. (2003). Domestic violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Hoyle, C. (1998). Negotiating domestic violence: Police, criminal justice, and victims. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Locke, L. M. , & Richman, C. L. (1999). Attitudes toward domestic violence: Race and gender issues. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 40(3-4), 227-247. Logan, T. K. , Shannon, L. , & Walker, R. (2006). Police attitudes toward domestic violence offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21(10), 1365-1374.
Roberts, A. R. (2002). Handbook of domestic violence intervention strategies: Policies, programs, and legal remedies. New York: Oxford University Press. The Northwest Tribal Court Judges Association. (1999). Tribal court bench book for domestic violence cases. Washington, DC: The Violence Against Women Grants Office. Wisconsin Department of Justice. (2002). Model domestic violence policies and procedures. Retrieved February 6, 2009, from http://www. doj. state. wi. us/cvs/documents/DAR/ModelDVPolicies. pdf