Use of the ODARA by police officers for intimate partner violence: Implications for practice in the field

  • Dale Ballucci Department of Sociology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON
  • Mary Ann Campbell Department of Psychology, University of New Brunswick, Saint John, NB
  • Carmen Gill Department of Sociology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB
Keywords: Police decision-making, risk assessment, police discretion

Abstract

Despite research demonstrating the validity of the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) for appraising risk of subsequent intimate partner violence, gaps remain with regard to its actual use by police officers in the field. The primary goals of the current study were to assess the rate at which the ODARA was used by police officers for intimate partner violence (IPV) in the Canadian context and to identify factors associated with its use. The current study used 142 randomly selected police files meeting criteria for IPV from three police agencies in an Atlantic Canadian province, following province-wide training on domestic violence and the ODARA. The ODARA was used by police in 60.3% of cases, though more commonly when physical Violence was present at index (70%). Significant ODARA use variation was noted across the three police gencies. ODARAs were more likely administered when the suspect was using drugs/alcohol (76.4%), the incident was between parties in a current intimate relationship (67.0%), when physical violence occurred in the index event (70.6%), and when a weapon was used (84.2%). Decisions to arrest and recommend charges to the prosecutor were predicted by higher ODARA total scores, above and beyond the influence of the police organization, suspect/victim characteristics, and incident context variables. Results are discussed in the context of police discretion/decision-making and the need for stronger implementation and policy use guidelines for risk appraisal by police officers, which includes a better understanding of IPV and the ODARA.

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Author Biography

Dale Ballucci, Department of Sociology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON

Assistant Professor

Published
2020-09-29
How to Cite
Ballucci, D., Campbell, M. A., & Gill, C. (2020). Use of the ODARA by police officers for intimate partner violence: Implications for practice in the field. Journal of Community Safety and Well-Being, 5(3), 91-102. https://doi.org/10.35502/jcswb.150
Section
Original Research