USI-DV logo small for webInnovative program offers immediate support services at the scene of a domestic violence incident

United Services, Inc. will collaborate with the University of Connecticut Police and State Police at Troops C, D and K to implement the recently expanded Lethality Assessment Program (LAP), to provide immediate safety and support services to victims at the scene of a domestic violence incident.

United Services implemented LAP in October 2013 with the Coventry Police Department and was among the first 15 cities and communities in the state to implement the program.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced the expansion of the program on October 1.

“The lethality assessment is an easy and effective method that identifies victims of domestic violence who are at heightened risk of being seriously injured or killed by their intimate partners and immediately connects them to the domestic violence service provider in their area,” said Governor Malloy in a statement. “With practices like this in place, we will undoubtedly save lives. I commend the Connecticut State Police and the many municipal police departments for their adoption of this vital tool.”

The LAP is based upon research conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing over the past 25 years.  The research states:

· Only 4 percent of domestic violence murder victims nationwide had ever availed themselves of domestic violence program services;
· In 50 percent of domestic violence-related homicides, officers had previously responded to a call at the scene; and
· The re-assault of domestic violence victims in high danger was reduced by 60 percent if they went into shelter.

“We are currently readying all of our patrol troopers to incorporate the lethality assessment into their response to domestic violence calls starting this month,” said Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora B. Schriro in a statement. “It is our goal to train all of our troopers during October, which is Domestic Violence Prevention month, to underscore our commitment to those affected by domestic violence.”

The Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council is providing training to municipal police departments on the use of the LAP.

“Connecticut is truly strengthened by the implementation of the Lethality Assessment Program by the Connecticut State Police,” said Karen Jarmoc, CEO of Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which oversees the Lethality Assessment Program in Connecticut in a statement. “Lethality assessment has proven to be a very effective tool. Close to 80 percent of victims deemed by police to be in high danger situations have been immediately connected to their local domestic violence organization for safety planning. This is a life-saving tool and we look forward to working with Connecticut State Police to assist in its implementation.”

Maryland was the first state to adopt the LAP and experienced a 34 percent drop in intimate partner Domestic Violence homicides between July 2007 and June 2012. The LAP is now being used by hundreds of jurisdictions in 32 states. Currently, 33 municipal police departments in Connecticut are using it.

“This partnership allows our domestic violence advocates to make contact with victims just when they need our services most and could mean the difference between further, potentially fatal, violence and a victim finding the tools and the means to escape an abusive relationship,” said Julie Hoagland, Manager of United Services Domestic Violence Program. “We are excited to further our relationships with the UConn and State Police Departments and expand this program.”

The LAP employs a two-pronged intervention process to better serve domestic violence victims who are in the greatest danger.  The process begins once an officer at the scene of a domestic violence incident conducts an assessment of the situation and, if factors that indicate danger exists, asks the victim a series of eleven questions that comprise the “Lethality Screen for First Responders.

If a victim’s responses to the questions reveal a high potential for violence, the officer follows a referral protocol by informing the victim that people in similar situations have been the victim of escalating violence. To help the victim address immediate safety needs, the officer calls the local domestic violence advocate and encourages the victim to speak directly with the advocate. After the victim speaks with the advocate, the officer reviews and supports the outcome of the telephone conversation between the victim and advocate. The officer may assist in the implementation of a safety plan developed by the victim and advocate.

October is domestic violence awareness month.

Below are some important domestic violence statistics both nationally and in Connecticut:

• Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten.
• Every day in the US, three or more women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.
• Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
• Ninety-two percent of women surveyed said reducing domestic violence and sexual assault is their top concern.

• Since 2000, 188 victims have been killed in Connecticut as a result of intimate partner violence.
• An average of 20,000 family violence incidents in Connecticut result in at least one arrest annually with 73 percent of these incidents involving intimate partners.
• In 2013, one third of all cases in Connecticut’s criminal courts involve family violence and, in any given year, approximately 9,000 restraining order applications are filed in Connecticut’s family courts.