The purpose of this research is to examine the social and legal determinants that affect a police officer’s decisions and actions in domestic violence incidents in both mandatory and discretionary arrest situations within the state of New Jersey. This study investigates the effect of variation based on years of police service, education, departmental size, working environment (urban or suburban), training, police experience, departmental policy, supervisory preferences, discipline employed by individual departments, managerial style of individual departments, and requirements under the law.
It is important to clarify the terminology used by this researcher, in particular to operationalize the concept of “determinants” as referred to in this study. Determinants of domestic violence enforcement by police officers in this research pertains to a wide variety of factors that are at work both on the surface and behind the scenes to produce both expected and unanticipated outcomes in these situations. The traditional discretion common for much of police work is limited, sometimes severely, by the mandatory arrest provisions that exist in current domestic violence legislation.
Some of these determinants are orientations or personal attitudes of the individual officer being studied. Others factors investigated include those associated with the formal nature and structure of police organizations and their policies and procedures that are the result of a combination of the enacted laws and administrative directives. Still another determinant examined in this research is the geographical setting in which a police officer operates. There are four major hypotheses set forth here, each with several research questions that explore this phenomenon.