Inj Prev 16:90-95 doi:10.1136/ip.2009.024620
  • Original Article

Effects of domestic violence policies, alcohol taxes and police staffing levels on intimate partner homicide in large US cities

  1. Daniel W Webster2
  1. 1School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
  2. 2Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr April M Zeoli, 540 Baker Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA; zeoli{at}
  1. Contributors AZ is the guarantor of the paper, and as such had full access to the data and accepts full responsibility for the data and the analyses. Both AZ and DW contributed to the research conception and design, analysis and interpretation of data, and drafting and approval of the final version to be published.

  • Accepted 29 November 2009


Objective To assess the relationships between intimate partner homicide (IPH) and public policies including police staffing levels in large US cities.

Design The research uses a multiple time-series design to examine the effects of statutes aimed at restricting access to firearms for perpetrators of domestic violence, allowing or mandating arrest for violators of domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs), beer excise taxes, and police staffing levels on IPH in 46 of the largest US cities from 1979 to 2003. Both total IPH and IPH committed with a firearm are analysed. Generalised estimating equations using a Poisson distribution are used to regress IPH on the policies and potential confounders.

Results State statutes restricting those under DVROs from accessing firearms, and laws allowing the warrantless arrest of DVRO violators are associated with reductions in total and firearm IPH. Police staffing levels are also negatively associated with IPH and firearm IPH. There was no evidence that other policies to restrict firearm access to domestic violence offenders or alcohol taxes had a significant impact on IPH.

Conclusions Reducing access to firearms for DVRO defendants, increasing police staffing levels and allowing the warrantless arrest of DVRO violators may reduce the city-level risk of IPH. Future research should evaluate factors that may mediate the effect of these laws and increased police staffing levels on IPH to determine whether there are opportunities to increase their protective effect. Further research is needed on firearm law implementation to determine why the other tested laws were not found effective.


  • Funding This research was funded by a Ruth L Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Fellowship (F31 AA016035).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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