Police Presence, Isolation, and Sexual Assault Prosecution
AbstractThis article considers the effects of geographic isolation and local police presence on the processing of 239 sexual assault cases reported to the Alaska State Troopers. Geographic isolation is hypothesized to hinder case processing due to its impact on the celerity and thoroughness of investigations, whereas the presence of local police is hypothesized to facilitate case processing by legitimizing reported offenses and assisting with evidence collection. Controlling for a host of important legal and “extra legal” case characteristics, the authors find that geographic isolation and local police presence did significantly influence case processing. However, contrary to expectations, geographic isolation facilitates case processing in that sexual assault cases from isolated locations are actually more likely to be referred for prosecution. As expected, local police presence facilitates case processing by enhancing the likelihood that referred cases would be accepted for prosecution. Implications for rural policing are discussed.