Police Departments Use of Lethality Assessments: An Experimental Evaluation

Project: Research project

Description

When a woman is murdered by her intimate partner or ex-intimate partner, prior domestic violence occurred in approximately 70% of the cases.1,7 In the majority of those cases, either the victim, perpetrator or both had contact with the criminal justice system.1 In fatality reviews of domestic violence homicides criminal justice and other systems ask themselves, Could we have known? What were the signs? In hindsight, there usually were signs. Often, there was a failure to read the signs or to act on them. Police departments are the first line of defense in cases of intimate partner violence (IPV). Victims of IPV call the police more often than they utilize any other help seeking strategy,2 and victims of intimate partner homicide were six times more likely to reach out to the police than to domestic violence advocacy or other social service agencies.3 It remains unclear whether arrest deters future fatal or near fatal incidents of IPV4,5,7 or re-assault.8 However, apart from arrest, law enforcement agencies do not have any evidence based strategies to intervene in IPV cases. Further, although risk assessments are available, US law enforcement officers are not systematically using validated methods for identifying the most dangerous IPV cases. This application proposes the implementation and testing of a Lethality Assessment and intervention protocol for use by police officers at the scene of a domestic violence crime in a state where a substantial proportion of IPV victims are Native American, a segment of our society highly at risk for domestic violence and IP homicide.6,74,75 The intervention consists of 2 components: a brief Lethality Assessment designed to determine whether the victim is at high risk for homicide and, if so, immediate coordination with local social service providers.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date9/1/083/31/14

Funding

  • US Department of Justice (DOJ): $439,377.00

Fingerprint

domestic violence
police
violence
homicide
evaluation
law enforcement
mobile social services
justice
police officer
risk assessment
service provider
incident
offense
contact
evidence