Spousal violence and evaluations of police performance in Canada: Does police contact matter?
Authors: Betty Jo Barrett, Amy Peirone, and Chi Ho Cheung
Using data from the Canadian General Social Survey-Victimization main file, this study assessed the relationship between spousal violence victimization and attitudes towards police. In a nationally representative study of male and female Canadians, we conducted multinomial logistic regression analyses to evaluate the extent to which spousal violence was related to evaluations of police performance [in terms of (a) enforcing the law, (b) responding to calls, (c) being easy to talk to, (d) supplying information to reduce crime, (e) treating people fairly, (f) keeping people safe, and (g) overall confidence in the police] after controlling for socio-demographic and neighborhood characteristics. In follow up analyses, we evaluated if victims of spousal violence who had police contact as a direct result of the violence differed from spousal violence victims who did not have police contact. As hypothesized, spousal violence victimization was significantly and negatively associated with ratings of police performance and confidence in the police in all areas. Counter to our hypotheses, we found no significant differences in attitudes towards police related to police contact; however significant differences were found among survivors based on socio-demographic, violence severity, and neighborhood characteristics. Despite twenty years of policies to improve police response to spousal violence, negative sentiments towards police on the part of victims persist. Officer training programs that specifically address relational aspects of policing, in addition to educational aspects, are recommended to improve survivor-police relations.
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