Police comfort and victims

Tracy Foley, William Terrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Research has shown that the nature of interactions with police can impact victim recovery from trauma, satisfaction with police, and cooperation within the criminal justice system. However, evaluations of police effectiveness often view crime prevention as the "bottom line" for successful policing while overlooking the socioemotive factors that are actually important to victims. Drawing on the attributional and blaming literature for conceptual guidance, the present research examines 1,865 police-victim encounters from a large-scale observational study in an attempt to better understand the relationship between victim characteristics and police comforting behavior. The findings indicate that a number of factors affect the likelihood of whether comfort will be offered by police officers to victims. More specifically, female and middle- to upper-class victims were more likely to be comforted by police officers, as were those exhibiting signs of injury or depression. However, those encounters involving officers with a college degree or more years of work experience were less likely to involve comforting behavior. The implications of these findings for theory and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-216
Number of pages25
JournalVictims and Offenders
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Blaming
  • Comfort
  • Observational
  • Police
  • Victims

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Law


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