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Service is at the heart of law enforcement. Sometimes, that means catching the criminal. But more often, it means implementing proactive programs that work. This year, 400 law enforcement officers in Douglas County have been trained in such a program.
Domestic violence impacts every community. In 2015, law enforcement agencies in Douglas County responded to nearly 800 domestic-related calls. Now, new training for local law enforcement, which is supported by the Crisis Center and 18th Judicial District, will help better serve victims of these crimes.
The Castle Rock, Lone Tree, and Parker police departments, along with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, have trained 400 officers in the Lethality Assessment Program. The new initiative was announced today during a joint press conference.
The program – derived from data by researchers at Johns Hopkins and developed by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence ¬– focuses on reducing the risk of death in a domestic situation by more effectively evaluating risk and immediately connecting victims to support services.
Supported by researchResearch shows only 4 percent of abused victims had used a hotline or shelter within a year of the incident, though many had called police. This program capitalizes on the contact police have with victims and immediately connects them with area resources.
Now, officers are equipped with a list of 11 questions that would drive them to boldly encourage victims to seek support services while still on-scene. Questions cover things like perpetrator unemployment, use or threat to use a weapon, access to guns, perpetrator suicide threats and jealousy.
“As leaders in law enforcement, we strive to serve our communities at the highest level,” said Castle Rock Police Chief Jack Cauley, who led the county-wide implementation of the program. “Sometimes, that means changing how we do things. This program offers us vital training, so we can better serve some of our most vulnerable victims.”
The on-scene calls prompted by law enforcement will go to The Crisis Center, a resource center, shelter and advocacy program in Douglas County. The center provides a 24-hours crisis hotline, shelter space, counseling and case management, support groups and children’s programming at no cost to those who have experienced domestic violence.
This data-driven program is being used in 800 agencies nationwide, but this is its first implementation in Colorado.
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