Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Officers honored for putting in extra work to keep domestic violence victims safe

At yesterday's Board of Police Commissioners meeting, I presented Certificates of Commendation to officers Kim Shaw and Kate Mahurin (they're pictured above with Capt. Pat Grove). With the help of Synergy Services, these officers have gone way above and beyond to ensure victims of domestic violence can get help in their situations. Here's what they did:

KCPD implemented the Lethality Assessment Program in June 2009. This program requires officers responding to a domestic disturbance to ask the victim 12 specific questions about his or her relationship with the abuser. How the victim answers can trigger officers to call a domestic violence advocate from the scene and put them on the phone directly with the victim to arrange for safety planning or other services. But the North Patrol Division took the program one step further.

North Patrol is conducting a pilot program that involves officers re-contacting domestic violence victims to see if they’ve followed up with the advice of domestic violence advocates. Officers Shaw and Mahurin are leading this pilot project. They attended five training courses in 2008 and 2009 to prepare for the program. They now collect and review all of North Patrol’s domestic violence reports and lethality assessment forms. On a weekly basis, they use these reports and work with a domestic violence advocate to re-contact high priority victims in person.
Of the 41 victims they re-contacted from July to October 2009, 38 – or 95 percent – asked for more help. On some cases, Officers Shaw and Mahurin determined the victim’s injuries were greater than originally thought, so they pulled the city cases and re-filed them as state felonies. Additionally, in the course of meeting with victims, Officers Shaw and Mahurin also met with abusers. Seven out of the eight abusers they contacted from July to October asked for counseling services from domestic violence agencies.

Sergeant Lawrence White said victims and domestic violence advocates have praised the work of Officers Shaw and Mahurin, and all are confident that the officers’ work will lead to reduced domestic violence incidents. The Special Victims Unit is reviewing the results of the North Patrol Pilot Project to possibly implement city-wide.

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