Stapleton Project Update from Hannah Caspar-Johnson

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December 11, 2018

Based on several months of ride-alongs with Metropolitan Police Department officers, I have narrowed down my research topics slightly. Experiences with domestic violence response calls have highlighted to me the role that gender and sexuality play in influencing the interaction between officers, survivors, and perpetrators. While there has been research on how female police officers, in particular, navigate a role that is heavily dominated my hegemonic masculinity and masculine power, I am interested in looking more specifically at how those gendered job expectations play when layered on top of intimate partner violence, an experience that is already in itself highly colored by gender and sexuality expectations. Drawing on research that has been conducted on sexual assault nurse examiners, social workers, and other careers that interact daily with traumatic and sensitive topics, I am also interested in looking at what happens when emotional trauma becomes routinized. How is emotional reservation and control taught to officers, implicitly and explicitly, and how does this affect an officer’s ability to effectively help a trauma survivor? A third theme I am exploring is the language officers use to describe intimate partner violence, and how this illustrates their (mis)understanding of the concept. Lastly, I am reflecting on my own role: as a Domestic Violence Liaison, I am a systems-based advocate tasked with helping survivors while still firmly placed within the MPD context. Using my own experiences, I will add to an analysis of what happens when the police force is expected to provide a social work type of domestic violence response.