Additional Resources:

Program Profile: Second Responders Program (Redlands, CA)

Evidence Rating: No Effects - One study No Effects - One study

Date: This profile was posted on February 13, 2012

Program Summary

The program model enlists second responders to make home visits to try to help victims find long-term solutions to help repeat incident victims of family violence including intimate partner abuse, abuse within families or households, and elder abuse. The program is rated No Effects. Overall, the evidence found no statistically significant differences between the treatment and control groups on prevalence of and frequency of new domestic incidents and time to failure.

This program’s rating is based on evidence that includes at least one high-quality randomized controlled trial.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
Second Responders programs were originally developed in the 1980s to help victims of repeat incidents of family violence (including intimate partner abuse, abuse within families or households, and elder abuse). Second Responders programs follow from the understanding that incidents of family violence are often recurring and that victims are likely to be receptive to opportunities to prevent recurrence immediately following victimization. Second responders (usually social workers and police officers) visit the homes where family violence incidents were recently reported to the police. They work with victims to help them find long-term solutions to recurring abuse.

This model was adopted for use with the Redlands (California) Police Department. The goal of the Redlands Second Responders program was to ensure that victims had information about and access to available resources and services, to answer any questions victims may have had about the complaint or the justice process, and to encourage a sense of trust in the police and criminal justice system as a whole.

Program Components
The Redlands Second Responders team consisted of two police officers, including a trained female domestic violence detective. The response team would visit households either within 24 hours or within 7 days of a domestic complaint. Depending on the victim’s receptiveness to assistance from the team, visits typically lasted 30–45 minutes.

A written protocol would guide the response team making the home visits. The officers began the visits by talking to victims about the recent incident of family violence and any immediate safety concerns the victims may have had. The officers would discuss with the victims the nature of the domestic violence and the possibility that the incident could recur if no action is taken. They would also ask the victim a series of questions about the relationship with the abuser, history of abuse, and the presence of children and weapons in the home.

After the preliminary discussion, second response officers would provide victims with information about resources and services available to them. Officers would provide them with a written description of local resources to assist domestic violence victims, including housing relocation, counseling, domestic violence shelters, medical help, civil legal assistance, information about the criminal justice process, aid in applying for an order of relief, and emergency financial assistance. In addition, officers would work with victims to develop safety plans and instruct them in how to document future abusive or stalking behaviors.

The second response team would make two attempts at home visits. In cases where the complainant was not home, literature was left and/or phone contact was made with the household.

Evaluation Outcomes

top border
Study 1
Overall, when examining the results of the randomized experiment assessing the Redlands (CA) Second Responders program, Davis, Weisburd, and Hamilton (2007) found no statistically significant differences between the treatment and control groups on any of the outcome measures. Although the outcomes suggest that the second response intervention may have increased abusive incidents for victims in the treatment groups, the results must be interpreted with caution because they did not reach statistical significance and therefore the possibility that the group differences were due to chance cannot be ruled out.

Prevalence of New Domestic Incidents
There were no significant differences between the groups in the proportion of cases resulting in new incidents. The 1-day response group generated somewhat more new incidents (32 percent) than did the 7-day response group (23 percent) and the control group (24 percent).

Time to Failure
Although the cases assigned to the two second response conditions failed somewhat sooner than control cases (the average survival time was 72 days and 59 days for 1- and 7-day response groups, compared with 79 days for the control group), the differences did not approach statistical significance.

Frequency of New Domestic Incidents
The average number of new incidents for the 1-day response group was 0.64, compared with 0.42 for the 7-day response group and 0.46 for the control group. Although the cases assigned to the 1-day response group had more new incidents than cases assigned to the 7-day response or the control condition, the difference did not rise to the level of statistical significance.
bottom border

Evaluation Methodology

top border
Study 1
Davis, Weisburd, and Hamilton (2007) conducted a randomized experiment to assess the impact of the Redlands (CA) Second Responders program. The study was also designed to determine whether the timing of the intervention is a key determinant of its effects. Cases involving misdemeanor or felony battery of a spouse or intimate partner reported to the Redlands Police Department (RPD) from Jan. 1, 2005, through Dec. 3, 2005, were randomized to one of three conditions: 1) second responders were sent to the victims’ homes within 24 hours (n=75); 2) second responders scheduled a visit to victims’ homes approximately 1 week after the call for service (n=77); or 3) no second response occurred (n=148).

There were no significant differences between the groups with regard to case characteristics. Fifty-three percent of all cases involved charges of misdemeanor battery, 23 percent involved felony spousal assault, 1 percent involved assault with a weapon, 1 percent involved sexual assaults, and 22 percent involved nonviolent charges (including vandalism, violation of a restraining order, threats, and harassing phone calls). Eighty-two percent of the victims were female. The median age for victims was 33 years old; for perpetrators, 35.

The outcome of interest was any new incidents of abuse. Rearrest data was collected from the RPD database 6 months after the reporting date of the last domestic violence incident included in the study. The database was searched to determine if any new incidents had been reported for cases included in the study. The search returned any cases associated with the same victim in the trigger incident. For any new incidents that were identified during the search, information was collected on the date, charge, and identity of the perpetrator.

In addition, 6 months following the trigger incident, research staff attempted to interview victims about any new incidents of abuse that might have occurred. At least five attempts were made to contact victims by telephone. In cases where the victim could not be reached by phone, an incentive letter was sent to the home. Several steps were taken to protect victims from possible retaliation from the abuser. Overall, a 41 percent (n=123) interview success rate was achieved. Twenty-two percent (n=66) were interviewed during home visits, 13 percent (n=39) were interviewed by phone, and 6 percent (n=18) were interviewed by incentive letter. There were no significant differences between the cases in which interviews were completed compared with cases where interviews were not completed, except in terms of charge. Victims who were interviewed were more likely to be involved in nonviolent incidents relative to those not interviewed.

When examining case characteristics by looking at police data, three in four perpetrators did not have a history of abuse against the victim reported to the RPD. Sixteen percent had one prior incident on file, 4 percent had two incidents, 3 percent had three incidents, and 1 percent had four or more prior incidents on file. However, according to victims, two in three perpetrators had abused them before the current incident, a number far higher than the proportion who had a previous history with the police. Victims reported an average of two prior acts of abuse against them.
bottom border


top border
There is no cost information available for this program.
bottom border

Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

top border
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Davis, Robert C., David L. Weisburd, and Edwin E. Hamilton. 2007. Preventing Repeat Incidents of Family Violence: A Randomized Field Test of Second Responder Program in Redlands, California. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.
bottom border

Additional References

top border
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Davis, Robert C., David L. Weisburd, and Edwin E. Hamilton. 2010. “Preventing Repeat Incidents of Family Violence: A Randomized Field Test of a Second Responder Program.” Journal of Experimental Criminology 6:397–418.

Davis, Robert C., David L. Weisburd, and Bruce Taylor. 2008. Effects of Second Responder Programs on Repeat Incidents of Family Abuse: A Systematic Review. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.
bottom border

Related Practices

top border
Following are practices that are related to this program:

Second Responder Programs
These programs consist of home visits by a crisis response team to follow-up on the initial police response to reports of family violence. The practice is rated No Effect for violent offenses —s the odds of reporting new abuse to the police were slightly higher for households that were assigned to receive a home visit through a second responder program. The practice is rated No Effects on victimization (i.e. the intervention had no statistically significant effect on victims' reports of abuse).

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Victimization - Domestic/intimate partner/family violence
bottom border

Program Snapshot

Gender: Both

Geography: Rural, Suburban

Setting (Delivery): Home

Program Type: Community and Problem Oriented Policing, Crisis Intervention/Response, Victim Programs

Targeted Population: Victims of Crime

Listed by Other Directories: Campbell Collaboration