Cops Hope New Tool Helps Cut Domestic Violence Deaths
Tess Koppelman, edited by Jason Vaughn - WDAF TV
July 29, 2009
Police in Kansas City, Missouri, are testing a new tool that officers hope will prevent domestic violence-related homicides. The new tool is a simple, 11-question survey that assesses a victim's risk of being killed or seriously injured by an abuser.
"When a woman is not wanting to prosecute her abuser, she's afraid he will be let out of jail and she'll be killed," said Susan Miller, CEO of the Rose Brooks Center, a domestic violence shelter.
Miller says the lethality screening is 11 questions police ask victims -- such as "Has he ever threatened to kill you?" -- and if she says yes then police tell her she's at high risk.
"That may be the first time to hear that she may have been enduring abuse for a long time," said Miller. "And to have someone say it especially a police officer it opens her eyes to perhaps 'this is when I need help.'"
According to domestic violence shelter Hope House, there were 36 positive screens from law enforcement.
"We talked to 28 of the 36 on the hotline the time of the screen," said Libby Conner of Hope House. "Of the 36 that were screened 17 people came in for some kind of service. That is we talked to 77 percent of those who screened in positive and 47 percent came in for services."
"It's a good thing you're connecting people to resources they need and hopefully that makes a difference," said KCMO Police Capt. Mark Folsom, who says that he's glad his officers can offer help -- including calls for counseling, shelter or safety planning -- instead of just handcuffs.
"There are situations we go 'I know I'm going to be back and things will go wrong for this victim,' and this is another thing we can use to avert that and not come back again," said Capt. Folsom.