Male police officers’ law enforcement preferences in cases of intimate partner violence

Male police officers’ law enforcement preferences in cases of intimate partner violence versus non-intimate interpersonal violence Do sexist attitudes and empathy matter?

From Criminal Justice and Behavior

The police have one of the most important roles in combating intimate partner violence against women (IPVAW). They are one of the main resources that women have to stop the violence, and to get help and protection. Research has widely illustrated the influence of police attitudes and responses on a number of relevant IPVAW outcomes. This article aims to add to this body of literature by analyzing male police officers’ law enforcement preferences across different scenarios of interpersonal violence, involving intimate and non-intimate violence. The sample consisted of 308 male police officers. This study reveals that male police officers express a preference for an unconditional law enforcement approach in cases of violence against women, both in intimate and non-intimate relationships, as compared with cases of violence between men. Comparatively, in cases of violence between men, police officers express a general preference for a more conditional law enforcement approach. These results do not support a leniency thesis suggesting that police treat IPVAW less seriously or prefer to under-enforce the law in cases of IPVAW, as compared with other scenarios of interpersonal violence in non-intimate relationships.

Abstract

This article explores male police officers’ law enforcement preferences across different scenarios of interpersonal violence, involving intimate (partner violence against women) and non-intimate relationships (between- and within-gender). The influence of police officers’ sexist attitudes and empathy on their law enforcement preferences was also analyzed within and across these scenarios. The sample consisted of 308 male police officers. Results showed that police officers prefer a stronger and unconditional law enforcement approach in cases of violence against women, both in intimate and non-intimate relationships. Benevolent sexism was linked to a preference for a more conditional law enforcement across interpersonal violence scenarios. The type of interpersonal violence scenario also conditioned the influence of hostile sexism and empathy on police preferences. Implications for training and selection of police officers are discussed.

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Article details
Enrique Gracia, Fernando García, and Marisol Lila
Male Police Officers’ Law Enforcement Preferences in Cases of Intimate Partner Violence Versus Non-Intimate Interpersonal Violence: Do Sexist Attitudes and Empathy Matter? Criminal Justice and Behavior 0093854814541655, first published on August 13, 2014 doi:10.1177/0093854814541655

     
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