7:45 AM, June 29, 2012

Police Decision Making in Sexual Assault Cases:  An Analysis of Crime Reported to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, 2008

This study used a mixed-methods approach to pursue five interrelated objectives: (1) to document the extent of case attrition and to identify the stages of the criminal justice process where attrition is most likely to occur; (2) to identify the case complexities and evidentiary factors that affect the likelihood of attrition in sexual assault cases; (3) to identify the predictors of case outcomes in sexual assault cases; (4) to provide a comprehensive analysis of the factors that lead police to unfound the charges in sexual assault cases; and (5) to identify the situations in which sexual assault cases are being cleared by exceptional means. Toward this end, three primary data sources were used: (1) quantitative data on the outcomes of sexual assaults reported to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) from 2005 to 2009, (2) qualitative data from interviews with detectives and with deputy district attorneys with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office who handled sexual assault cases during this time period, and (3) detailed quantitative and qualitative data from case files for a sample of cases reported to the two agencies in 2008. For confidentiality reasons, only the quantitative data from the 2008 case files are included in this collection.

The complete case files for sexual assaults that were reported to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in 2008 were obtained by members of the research team and very detailed information (quantitative and qualitative data) was extracted from the files on each case. The case file included the crime report prepared by the patrol officer who responded to the crime and took the initial report from the complainant, all follow-up reports prepared by the detective to whom the case was assigned for investigation, and the detective's reasons for unfounding the report or for clearing the case by arrest or by exceptional means. The case files also included either verbatim accounts or summaries of statements made by the complainant, by witnesses (if any), and by the suspect (if the suspect was interviewed); a description of physical evidence recovered from the alleged crime scene, and the results of the physical exam (Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam) of the victim (if the victim reported the crime within 72 hours of the alleged assault). Members of the research team read through each case file and recorded data in an SPSS data file. There are 650 cases and 261 variables in the data file. The variables in the data file include administrative police information and charges listed on the police report. There is also information related to the victim, the suspect, and the case.

This dataset is available through the ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research) database which provides search and browsing access to abstracts and data sets in the world's largest archive of computerized social science data. Search or browse title of study, principal investigator, words in abstract, or study number. Browse major research categories..  Auburn University students, faculty, and staff only may create an account that will allow access to the membership-only data.

Please contact Barbara Bishop at bishoba@auburn.edu or (334) 844-1690 if you need more information concerning ICPSR .


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