Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Public Health. 2014 Feb;104(2):338-44. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301513. Epub 2013 Dec 12.

Breaking the blue wall of silence: risk factors for experiencing police sexual misconduct among female offenders.

Author information

Linda B. Cottler is with the Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health and Health Professions and College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville. Catina C. O'Leary is with Health Literacy Missouri, St Louis. Katelin B. Nickel is with the Division of Infectious Diseases, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis. Jennifer M. Reingle is with the Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Dallas Regional Campus. At the time of the study, Daniel Isom was with the St Louis Metropolitan Police Department, St Louis, Missouri.



We assessed the prevalence of and risk factors for trading sex with a police officer among women recruited from drug courts in St Louis, Missouri.


In 2005 to 2008, we recruited women into an HIV intervention study, which surveyed participants about multiple sociodemographic, lifestyle, and risk factors. Regression analyses assessed risk factors for trading sex, a form of police sexual misconduct (PSM).


Of the 318 participants, 78 (25%) reported a lifetime history of PSM. Among women who experienced PSM, 96% had sex with an officer on duty, 77% had repeated exchanges, 31% reported rape by an officer, and 54% were offered favors by officers in exchange for sex; 87% said officers kept their promise. Only 51% of these respondents always used a condom with an officer. Multivariable models identified 4 or more arrests (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.8; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.29, 5.97), adult antisocial personality (AOR = 9.0; 95% CI = 2.08, 38.79), and lifetime comorbid cocaine and opiate use (AOR = 2.9 [1.62, 5.20]) as risk factors; employment (AOR = 0.4; 95% CI = 0.22, 0.77) lowered the risk of PSM.


Community-based interventions are critical to reduce risk of abuse of vulnerable women by police officers charged with protecting communities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center