On Jan. 10, 2019 an article was published in the Moab Times-Independent titled “Police find domestic violence suspect hiding behind bed.” In the article, the author wrote, “According to police, the victim was determined to be at ‘low risk’ of further domestic violence after completing a threat assessment worksheet.”
While our officers did complete a “threat assessment worksheet,” there appears to be some misunderstanding of what a Lethality Assessment Protocol is and how it works. We would like to offer further explanation and clarification to ensure the community understands this important program.
The Lethality Assessment Protocol/Program was developed in 2005 by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence as a way to prevent domestic violence homicides and serious injuries. The Moab City Police Department implemented the LAP in 2018, providing all of our officers with the training and forms necessary to successfully operate the program. It is typically used in the following manner: An officer responds to a domestic violence incident, and after stabilizing the scene and conducting a preliminary investigation, the officer asks the victim(s) a series of standardized questions. The victim’s responses to those questions help the officer to determine the victim ‘s risk of being seriously injured or killed by their intimate partner. Officers are then able to immediately connect the victim(s) to a local domestic violence service program.
The LAP does not allow an officer to predict whether a victim is at a high or low risk of further domestic violence. Rather, it is a tool designed to help officers create a risk profile of the victim that is then used to provide the victim with critical services to help ensure their safety. The LAP is one of only two models of evidence-based intimate partner homicide prevention to be honored as a “promising practice” by the U.S. Department of Justice, and has been studied and validated. It is currently in use by agencies in 37 states in jurisdictions ranging from the East to the West Coast.
We apologize for any confusion the original article may have created. We are proud to offer the Lethality Assessment Protocol in Moab. We welcome any questions or comments you may have.
Chief, Moab Police Department
Editor’s note: For more information about the LAP program, see The Times-Independent’s July 12, 2018 story titled, “Risk management: Seekhaven, MPD boost victim safety.”