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BSU researchers recommend safety assurances for domestic violence victims

August 19, 2020 GMT

In the wake of an Idaho Supreme Court ruling that upended 30 years of policing response to domestic violence cases in the state, a team of Boise State University researchers examined police and victim services responses to domestic violence and issued 14 recommendations to ensure the safety of domestic violence victims. These recommendations include passing a constitutional amendment to reinstate the option of warrantless arrest for select crimes, among others.

The court ruled in State of Idaho vs. Clarke (2019) that the use of warrantless arrest in a misdemeanor battery case was unconstitutional. The loss of warrantless arrest prevents Idaho policing agencies from making arrests in these cases unless they witnessed the crime or obtain a warrant, potentially posing problems for victim safety. Idaho is the only state in the country without the option of warrantless arrest for domestic violence.

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Authored by Boise State Criminal Justice researchers Lisa M. Growette Bostaph, Rachel Jeffries, Laura L. King and Lane K. Gillespie, “Emerging Issues in Victimization: The Impact of the Clarke Decision on Policing’s Response to Victimization” draws on interviews with policing leaders, officers and victim services professionals from across the state. Sixteen policing agencies and six victim service agencies participated.

The study explored agency responses to the Clarke decision, the impact on domestic violence policies and policing responses, and the impact on victim service responses. For instance, more than 60 percent of participating agencies reported perceived changes in both official and unofficial forms of police response after the Clarke decision.

Based on an evaluation of data from interviews, the report offered fourteen recommendations for improving victim safety, access to victim services, and police response post-Clarke. Five recommendations address victim service agencies, eight address police agencies, and one addresses a cross-agency response. Recommendations include:

• Investing in biannual victim services trainings that include safely accessing and providing services to victims when suspect presence and/or interference is likely.

• Passing a constitutional amendment to reinstate the option of warrantless arrest for select crimes, based on their propensity for future physical harm.

• Mandating telephonic and electronic warrant availability across state.

The full report can be found on the Boise State criminal justice website at:

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tinyurl.com/y5qxh3o5

“Given the uniqueness of the situation in Idaho, the safety risk for victims of domestic violence, and the lack of many evidence-based practices that do not involve the use of arrest, we felt it was important to capture how both policing and victim service agencies were coping with such a sudden and drastic change to 30 years of policy and practice,” said Growette Bostaph. “While this is only part of the story, we hope the data we gathered and the recommendations made from those data are helpful in finding a way forward that continues to prioritize victim safety.”

The new report is part of The Biennial Report on Victimization and Victim Services, a series of papers on the state of victimization, response to victimization, impacts of crime on victims and victim services in Idaho. The project is funded by the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance (ICDVVA).