The Lebanon City Police Department is rolling out a new tool for officers to help them intervene during domestic violence incidents.
Julie Bancroft, the spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says when police arrive at a domestic violence call, it’s a critical time for the victim.
“When a victim seeks help, that can be one of the most dangerous times for that victim. At that time, they’ve compromised the control of the abuser,” said Bancroft.
Last year, police say more than half of all reported assaults in Lebanon were domestic violence related. Now, Lebanon officers will ask victims a series of 11 questions — and their answers will help officers determine how much danger they could be in.
The questions are part of LAP, or the Lethality Assessment Program.
“They will ask things like have you ever been choked by your partner? Have you ever been threatened with guns? This series of questions will help to identify whether or not that victim is at risk of further threat or the potential of being killed,” said Bancroft.
If the victim answers yes to most of the questions, police will call a local counselor.
“This actually puts the victim of the assault on the phone with a domestic violence advocate who will attempt to come up with a safety plan for the victim. They will assist them in either getting out of the relationship and/or finding them a safe place to go,” police Sgt. Eric Sims said.
Last year, 117 people died in Pennsylvania as a result of domestic violence. Police and the Lebanon County district attorney’s office has said they want that number to go down — and they hope more police departments will get with the program.
Lebanon officers should complete the training by June.