SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 1: Nelson, E. (2013). The relationship between individual police officer work habits and the stated reasons prosecutors reject their domestic violence investigations. SAGE Open, October–December, 1–11. doi: 10.1177/215824401351182

Summary: In the United States, 70% of all non-arrest domestic violence (DV) police investigations are rejected by prosecutors. Using DV investigation data, the routine work habits of two groups of police officers were compared across six measures. Cases submitted by routinely lower effort (RLE) officers are rejected 270% more often, sustaining an average of 4.00 criticisms each, compared to 2.21 for routinely greater effort officers. RLE officers submit ambiguous investigations (58% vs. 0%), and cases with insufficient evidence (74% vs. 36%). The Proficiency Score (P Score) quantitative monitoring method is presented and validated. This method identifies RLE officers, and also specific areas of deficient individual investigative practice in need of improvement. With improvement, rates of prosecution and conviction for DV crime should increase substantially.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are some of the reasons for prosecutorial rejection of domestic violence cases?
  2. In this study, how do routinely lower effort and routinely greater effort officers compare on case rejection?
  3. How does low effort policing impact the prosecution of cases? What are some suggestions for improvement?


Article 2: Kenney, D. J., White, M. D., & Ruffinengo, M. A. (2010). Expanding the role of patrol in criminal investigations: Houston’s Investigative First Responder Project. Police Quarterly, 13(2), 136–160. doi: 10.1177/1098611110365687

Summary: Research in the late 1970s discovered two ongoing problems with criminal investigations. The first problem involved the inefficiency in the work done by detectives, and the second centered on the misunderstood role of patrol officers in those investigations. In recognition of these ongoing problems, the Houston police department (HPD) sought to improve its investigative capacity and effectiveness through the Investigative First Responder (IFR) project, a pilot program initiated in early 2007 that specially trained and reassigned 45 patrol officers to investigative status so that they could assume responsibility for Part 1 crimes. This article examined the impact of the IFR project through pre–post comparisons of calls for service, response times, and quality and content of investigative reports, as well as surveys of both IFR and non-IFR officers on their perceptions of the program. Findings suggested that the program increased the HPD’s investigative capacity and effectiveness without negatively affecting workload among the remaining patrol staff, though inconsistent survey responses raised questions about patrol officers’ acceptance of the project. The implications of the findings for police policy and practice with regard to criminal investigation were also taken into consideration, for further discussion in this article.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are the two parts of the investigative process? Who is responsible for each part?
  2. How did the Investigative First Responder project increased the Houston police department’s investigative capacity and effectiveness?
  3. Did the Investigative First Responder project have any impact on officer workload and response times?