Lethality Assessment: Police, Seekhaven train to help victims of domestic violence

Moab Police and the staff at Seekhaven Family Crisis & Resource Center pose for a photo after doing training regarding the Lethality Assessment Program. Courtesy photo

The Moab Police Department and Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center on Oct. 17 received training on the Lethality Assessment Program, which the department implemented in 2018.

Claire Mosby, prevention coordinator of Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, traveled from Salt Lake City to facilitate the training. In the evidence-based protocol, police officers assess and identify high-danger victims of intimate partner violence who are statistically at risk of homicide.

If a victim is deemed to be in high danger, the officer directly connects them to Seekhaven via a hotline call. Seekhaven advocates assist the victim in safety planning and provide emergency shelter, if necessary, and offers enhanced follow-up services.

The 11-question screen asks questions such as, “Has your partner ever choked you?” “Has your partner threatened to kill you or your children?” and “Is your partner violently or constantly jealous and tries to control most of your daily activities?”

A victim’s answers indicate the severity of their situation, giving the officer and advocate insight of their needs and level of danger.

Statistics show that in the year prior to homicide, more than 44 percent of abusers were arrested, and almost one-third of victims contacted police. Alternatively, only four percent of abused victims had used a domestic violence hotline or shelter within the year prior to being killed by an intimate partner. Once a victim engages with services with a service provider like Seekhaven, their risk of another assault, and death, diminishes greatly, said Seekhaven’s Abi Taylor.