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Washtenaw County Law Enforcement Adopts 'Lethality Assessment' For Domestic Violence Cases

Elsa Baine

Law enforcement across Washtenaw County is changing the way it responds to domestic violence calls.  89.1 WEMU's Taylor Pinson explores the change through the eyes of law enforcement and a domestic violence survivor advocate. 

In an effort to be more pro-active, the county's sheriff and multiple local chiefs of police announced late last week they will start using 'Lethality Assessments' in all domestic violence cases.

The assessment is a brief questionnaire administered by first responders to the victim and is used to determine how much danger they are in.

Nicole Beverly is a local domestic violence survivor and advocate.  She says they are a valuable tool not only for law enforcement, but victims of abuse as well.

"It actually helps victims understand their own level of risk, so when they're being asked these questions, sometimes it's the first time they might actually realize how at-risk they are for being killed by their abusers," Beverly says.

Mike Marocco is the acting Police Services Commander for the sheriff’s department.  He says they need to produce an instructional video and get some other training materials ready before they can implement the new policy.

“I would say, realistically, by the time we get the video produced and all that, we’re hoping to have it as part of our standard operating procedure across the county by January 1, 2020,” Marocco says.

Marocco says the new assessments will also help save the lives of police officers responding to domestic violence situations as well.

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— Taylor Pinson is a writer/reporter for 89.1 WEMU News.  Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him studio@wemu.org

Taylor Pinson is a former WEMU news reporter and engineer.
Taylor Pinson is a former WEMU news reporter and engineer.
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