Involving Police Departments in Early Awareness of Concussion Symptoms during Domestic Violence Calls

Mark Higbee, Jon Eliason, Hilary Weinberg, Jonathan Lifshitz, Hirsch Handmaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Police officers around the world respond to and investigate calls regarding domestic violence (DV) daily. Police departments operate with standard protocols, particularly when engaging in investigations that involve allegations of strangulation or sexual assault. Operating under advisement of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the Mesa Police Department (Mesa, AZ) has established protocols for detecting, recording, and prosecuting DV cases that involve strangulation and sexual assault. Allegations of strangulation (defined as impeded breathing) or sexual assault prompt officers to offer a forensic nursing exam (FNE) combined with strangulation treatment by forensic nurses at the Mesa Family Advocacy Center. Recognizing the potential for head injury to the assault victim in all DV situations, including intimate partner violence (IPV), the police department has added concussion-awareness training, as well as a point-of-incident investigative tool for its officers to record neurological function of the victim. Officers were instructed to use the ConQVerge device to measure and record the Near Point of Convergence (NPC) as a test of neurological impairment in suspected head injuries. In this article, we discuss the challenges and opportunities for assisting victims of DV strangulation and sexual assault (including non-DV sexual assault) with on-site assessment and consent for further medical assessment and treatment. Additionally, rates of domestic assault victims that report a crime, but decline to follow through with forensic medical tests, are reported for the first time. Lessons learned from the project that inform strategic operations in this space are offered to other agencies prior to the implementation of similar procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)826-837
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • DV
  • assessment
  • intimate partner violence
  • officers
  • sexual assault
  • strangulation
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Involving Police Departments in Early Awareness of Concussion Symptoms during Domestic Violence Calls'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this