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Connecticut is first state in country to use intimate partner violence risk assessment tool

CCADV, CT POST release report regarding CT’s Lethality Assessment Program

Today Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) and CT Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) released a new report – Connecticut ’s Lethality Assessment Program 2017 Report. The report highlights that Connecticut is the first state in the country to achieve statewide utilization by law enforcement of an intimate partner violence risk assessment tool. The Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) provides a two-pronged approach that allows law enforcement to identify victims of intimate partner violence at risk for increased or fatal violence and get them immediately connected to help.

According to Connecticut’s Family Violence 2016 Arrest Report, there were 12,894 arrests for intimate partner violence in 2016, accounting for approximately one-third of all cases in Connecticut’s criminal justice system. The successful statewide implementation of LAP has had a significant impact on connecting victims in Connecticut to domestic violence services at a critical time while also shaping policy to strengthen the state’s response to domestic violence. Data collected between October 2012 and September 2017 demonstrates:

  • 22,566 lethality screens completed statewide
  • 51% deemed “high danger”
  • 73% of “high danger” victims spoke with a counselor when the police officer placed a phone call to the local domestic violence organization at the scene
  •  89% of those victims who spoke with a domestic violence counselor at the scene followed up for services

A review of over 3,000 screen responses found that 61% of victims had recently left or were attempting to leave their abuser at the time police were called, 58% of victims had experienced attempted strangulation, and 53% of victims had been stalked by their abuser. The timely connection of high danger victims to services that are facilitated by the use of LAP is critical to providing safety planning as victims prepare for the release of their abuser from custody, which may occur within hours of an arrest.

In September 2012, following a recommendation by the Connecticut Domestic Violence Fatality Review Task Force, which is led by CCADV, CCADV and the Connecticut Police Officer Standards & Training Council (POST) partnered to begin the statewide rollout of LAP. LAP utilizes a validated screening tool that identifies known risk factors for fatal intimate partner violence. The screen itself takes just 5 minutes for law enforcement to conduct and evaluate for the potential immediate referral of a victim to domestic violence services.

“The Lethality Assessment Program identifies those victims of domestic violence who are in ‘high danger’,” said Chief John Gavallas, Watertown Police Department, and President, Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. “This opens the door to safety and services that can make a significant change in the lives of those victims and their children.”

To ensure that the best practices and sizeable accomplishments achieved through LAP are not only maintained, but advanced, some next steps include:

  •                     Reviewing further research opportunities and data collection initiatives to formulate recommendations for systems-level change.
  •                     Assess potential changes to LAP protocol based on the available data about types of abuse experienced by victims in Connecticut.
  •                     Develop processes to ensure adherence to the fidelity of the LAP protocol.
  •                     Establish a clear model for the implementation and sustainability of LAP on a statewide basis that can be utilized by Connecticut and other states.
  •                     Determine other areas of the criminal justice system that could be informed about offender risk and dangerousness through the utilization of the LAP screen score while maintaining victim safety and confidentiality.
  •                     Work with other stakeholders to ensure uniform data collection across systems.

First piloted in 2010 by Ansonia Police Chief Kevin J. Hale in concert with CCADV member organization, The Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services, LAP was created by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence. LAP is based on extensive and comprehensive research conducted by Dr. Jacquelyn C. Campbell and Johns Hopkins University over a 25 year period. Maryland LAP provided training and technical assistance for the development and implantation of LAP in Connecticut.

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