The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the Richmond, Virginia Second Responders Program's practice of sending social workers to scenes of domestic violence while the officers who responded to the incident were still on-site. The study also involved a process evaluation of the researcher/practitioner partnership formed between the Police Foundation and the Richmond Police Department and Richmond Department of Social Services.
Because Richmond, Virginia implemented the Second Responders Program fully in two of its four police precincts, researchers were able to employ a quasi-experimental design. An experimental group was drawn from the First and Second Precincts, where the program was adopted, and a control group was drawn from the Third and Fourth Precincts. Control cases received the conventional police response. The experimental cases received intervention from both the Richmond Police and the Second Responders.
The researchers followed a number of additional procedures to select eligible cases for the treatment and control groups. They paid a daily visit to the Youth and Family Crime Unit of the Richmond Police Department in order to copy the PD 109, or family violence report, forms that were submitted each day during the sampling period. They subsequently entered information from the forms into a database that ultimately provided the pool for a sample. Cases in the treatment districts that met criteria for inclusion but for which the researchers did not receive a second responder report were checked to determine if they had in fact been served by the social workers. Cases that did not receive the service in the treatment precincts were consequently excluded from both the treatment and control groups.
Domestic violence literature and experimental studies, such as the Spouse Assault Replication Program (SARP), provided a basis for the development of interview instruments, which underwent review by qualified experts and a pretest before actual use. Field interviewers received training in contact protocols, reviewed the interview instruments, and engaged in role-playing before meeting the study's participants.
The evaluation of the Second Responder Program was based on two waves of interviews with victims of domestic violence. The first interview was generally conducted within a few days of the triggering incident, and the second interview after an intervening period of six months.
From April, 1999 to June 2000, Police Foundation researchers daily reviewed domestic violence reports routinely submitted by police at the end of each shift to identify eligible subjects, defined as aged 18 years or older, a resident of Richmond, and a female victim of abuse by a former or current intimate partner. Only cases that occurred during the Second Responders' working hours (6:00 P.M. to 9:00 A.M.) were included to ensure experimental and control group comparability.
There were also a number of criteria for exclusion: (1) nonresidents were excluded, since they were ineligible to receive follow-up services from the City of Richmond; (2) victims of a sexual assault were also excluded since the Richmond Police Department (RPD) could not disclose information about them to the researchers; (3) the dual arrest of both the woman and her partner were excluded because it was unlikely that the second responders would be able to provide service to the female "victim".
Because the experimental and control groups were defined by geographic boundaries rather than random assignment, researchers paid special attention to the comparability of experimental and control subjects. They collected a wide range of (self-reported) demographic data, including age, race, marital status, living situation, education, work status, income, and household size. The data revealed no significant differences between groups on any measured demographic variable.
Female residents of Richmond, Virginia aged 18 years or older who were victims of abuse by a former or current intimate partner from 6:00 PM to 9:00 AM from April, 1999 to June, 2000.
Individual (Part 1 (Wave 1 Data) and Part 2 (Wave 2 Data))
For Part 1 (Wave 1 Data), respondents were asked about their relationship with their partner and their living situation at the time of the incident. The women were also asked whether the police provided various services, whether the second responder provided various services, and whether they contacted any of these services. Respondents were asked to assess their attitudes toward the police and toward the second responder. There were also questions related to whether the respondent's partner had abused her or another household member before the incident and since the incident. Demographic information such as education, income, and race was also included.
For Part 2 (Wave 2 Data), respondents were asked about their current relationship with their original partner.
The women were also asked how supportive and helpful the police and the second responders were in getting them assistance after the initial crisis that brought them into the study. Respondents were asked about protective orders, custody of children, and the criminal outcome of the incident and their experiences with the court system. There were also questions related to the respondent's experience with family violence workers, and their experiences with friends and family since the incident.
Several questions explored the incidence, prevalence, and types of violence that occurred in the respondent's life, including history of domestic violence, the initial crisis that brought them into the study, and about incidents that occurred in the subsequent six months. The experience of four main types of victimization were also documented:
(1) the number of times the respondent's partner had harmed them, (2) the number of times the respondent's partner had threatened to harm them, (3) the number of times the respondent's partner had threatened to kill them, and (4) the number of times the respondent's partner had damaged property in their home. Demographic information such as education, income, and employment status was also included.
Once researchers reached a potential subject, a 72 percent cooperation rate was achieved for Part 1 (Wave 1 Data). Including potential subjects who could not be contacted, the Part 1 response rate was 50 percent. For Part 2 (Wave 2 Data), the cooperation rate was 92 percent. Including subjects who could not be contacted for the second interview, researchers achieved a response rate of 76 percent.
In both Part 1 (Wave 1 Data) and Part 2 (Wave 2 Data), several Likert-type scales were used.