Utah police agencies attend ‘Lethality Assessment Program’ training on domestic violence

Posted at 9:44 PM, Jul 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-11 23:44:29-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- About a dozen questions may be all it takes to stop a murder, and a new training program emphasizing that is being used by six Utah police departments.

Last month, FOX 13 News reported on two families who were victims of domestic homicide, and experts said it’s a growing problem for the state.

"Nationally, about 30 percent of homicides are attributed to domestic violence, but in Utah, over a ten-year trend, we’re as high as 43 percent,” said Jenn Oxborrow, a domestic violence program administrator.

Those statistics prompted Utah police departments to sponsor advanced training in domestic violence prevention for their officers.

The Lethality Assessment Program will include 11 standardized questions officers will use to screen potential victims, and their answers help determine if the situation is high-risk for becoming a homicide.

“We’ve learned that by utilizing this lethality assessment, we can identify people who are at a higher risk of becoming a homicide victim in a domestic violence situation, and therefore we can take the risks, or take the steps to remove them from that situation,” said Lt. Adam Osoro of the Woods Cross Police Department.

Initially, only a few officers from the Woods Cross Police Department received training two years ago. This week, six departments participated from across Utah: West Jordan, Cedar City, Cache County, Woods Cross, Bountiful and North Salt Lake.

“So if we can even reduce our domestic violence homicide rates by half in this next year, I call that a success,” Oxborrow said.

Osoro added: “We’ve had a couple families that we believe had their lives saved because we were able to remove them from a violent situation.”

The training program was developed by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, and it's been adopted by 30 states so far.

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition in Utah states free, confidential support and resources are available to those impacted by domestic violence. For details call 1-800-897-5465 or visit the coalition’s website.