Coalition requests state funding for services to help domestic violence victims in Utah

Posted at 5:52 PM, Feb 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-14 23:33:03-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Some abused women who’ve survived domestic violence said the pain is always there.

“I am still emotional after 15 years,” said survivor Cly’ta Berg. “It is emotional; it lives in me every day.”

Berg is also chair-elect with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Board of Directors. She is pushing for more victims’ services for a program called LAP, Lethality Assessment Protocol.

“If this would have been for me 15 years ago, I probably could have gotten out faster than I did,” Berg said. “It took me three and half years to leave my partner, and I feel like with this program we will be able to save more lives.”

The LAP program started last year in Utah. It trains law enforcement to ask the right questions when approaching a victim, allowing them to get them the help they need faster, and, by extension, lowering the homicide rate. This year local officers and victim advocates are asking the state for $895,000 to keep funding LAP.

“It’s essential for our state, our communities,” Berg said.

West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo started his department on the LAP training January 1st. He has seen results.

“About a week ago, Domestic Violence Coalition wrote West Valley City a letter talking about the number of referrals we already made for victimizations,” Chief Russo said.

He said 47 percent of Utah homicides in 2015 were domestic violence related.

He cited research indicating that the states that are using LAP have reduced their domestic violent homicide rate 50 percent.

The chief and Berg said those are numbers, "no one should ignore."

“There is no limits on people’s values, it’s their life,” said a heartfelt Berg. “I feel like we can save a lot more people... if we can get this funding.”

The funding does not go to training, as the officer training through LAP is free. All the funding goes toward victims’ services.

For more information about the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and the resources they offer, click here.

Anyone who is in danger or in need of help regarding domestic violence can call the Utah Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-897-5465. In an emergency, dial 911.