What are lethality assessments and how can they help? The practice is one of many highlighted in the recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
One model — The Lethality Assessment Program—Maryland Model (LAP) – was created by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV) in 2005. The goal is to identify victims most at risk of serious injury or death by their intimate partners and connect them to service programs. In Maryland, trained officers ask victims questions in their Lethality Screen for First Responders.
Read about the roots of the model, adapted from Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell’s Danger Assessment.
PERF’s study found that 42 percent of responding agencies use lethality assessments, or “structured risk” tools – to assess the level of danger a victim faces. The yes-or-no questions help determine the need for a safety plan. Questions include whether violence from the offender has increased; whether the offender has a criminal history or a history of drug or alcohol abuse; whether the abuser has violated an order of protection; and whether the victim has decided to leave the offender.
Of the agencies using this assessment, 81 percent include the findings in the police report, the PERF survey found. Seventy-nine percent of agencies using the tool say responding officers administer the assessment.
MNADV says using LAP has “improved partnerships and collaboration among law enforcement officers and other community practitioners and advocates.” Agencies have created new guidelines for hotline advocates who speak to high-danger victims and special protocols for health care providers.
Researchers who studied seven Oklahoma police jurisdictions found that “the LAP demonstrates promise as an evidence informed collaborative police-social service intervention that increases survivors’ safety and empowers them toward decisions of self-care.”