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Police Attitudes and Beliefs Concerning Rape (From Victim (From (From Aspects of Rape Investigation, P 43-58, 1987, Robert R Hazelwood and Ann Wolbert Burgess, eds. - See NCJ-105948)

NCJ Number
J C Ledoux; R R Hazelwood
Date Published
16 pages
This paper reports on a 1983 national study of 2,170 county and municipal police officers to examine their attitudes toward rape.
Using logic and statistical techniques, the researchers categorized responses according to whether they focused on the victim, the rapist, and the trial. Study results indicate that most officers viewed rape as a serious crime that deserves severe punishment. Although officers were not typically insensitive to rape victims' plight, they were suspicious of victims who meet certain criteria, such as previous and willing sex with the assailant. There was a small subset of officers who strongly believed that 'nice' women do not get raped and that most rape charges are unfounded. Officers with these prejudiced attitudes should not be permitted to serve in rape investigations. Regarding the rapist, officers saw rape as an exercise in power, but they did not view rape as an opportunity to demonstrate manhood. They were also confused as to whether or not rape is a sex crime. These attitudes, when linked with their attitudes toward the rape victim, indicate a need for increased training of officers in rape investigation and victimology. Most of the rape investigators had received sexual assault or victimology training. Respondents believed prosecutors, victims, and potential jurors are not properly prepared to play their assigned roles in a jury trial. 16 tables and 11 references.


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