Police Response to Children Present at Domestic Violence Incidents

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Police response to domestic violence (DV) has continued to change and expand over the past several decades. Although DV was originally considered a private matter, it now represents one of the most common calls for service received by police agencies. While police response to DV incidents has improved substantially, intervention when children are present remains an undeveloped area of research and practice. The present study examined 345 police reports from an agency in the Northwestern United States to explore police response to DV incidents when children are present. Regression analyses indicated that child presence was a statistically significant predictor of victim-directed intervention, victim-directed follow-up, and arrest although in differing directions. While child presence increased the odds of victim-directed intervention and victim-directed follow-up, it decreased the odds of arrest. Findings further indicated that the frequency of police interaction with children present at DV incidents was minimal. Based on these findings, recommendations for policy and practice are discussed.