Wednesday, December 8, 2010

KCPD’s LAP program is getting more domestic violence victims to safety


KCPD’s efforts to get the most endangered victims of domestic violence to safety are having an impact.

While rates of domestic violence have shot up in cities around the country in the poor economy, Kansas City’s domestic violence homicides have dropped by 25 percent, and domestic violence aggravated assaults have fallen 7 percent in a one-year period (June 2008 to May 2009 compared to June 2009 to May 2010).

Kansas City Missouri Police implemented the Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP) in June 2009 and has seen numbers tumble since then. LAP requires officers responding to domestic violence calls to administer an 11-question survey to the victim that predicts how likely she or he is to be killed by her or his intimate partner. The victim’s answers can trigger officers to immediately call a domestic violence victim advocate to arrange for safety planning for the victim. Kansas City was one of five cities in the nation to pilot the program and is the largest law enforcement agency to have permanently implemented it.

KCPD has partnered with Rosebrooks Center and Synergy Services on the project. Since KCPD started LAP, the shelters are housing an average of 16 more women daily and are taking 19.3 percent more hotline calls.

“Simply put, these are victims the agencies may never have been able to reach and help,” said Captain Mark Folsom, Commander of the Special Victims Unit.

From June 2009 to May 2010, officers screened a total of 2,010 domestic violence victims. Nearly 69 percent of them screened as “high danger,” and more than 57 percent of the total screened spoke to a domestic violence counselor on the phone. One out of five victims that police screened for LAP continued working with a counselor and receiving services.

Captain Folsom said LAP has been a holistic approach to overcoming domestic violence.

“KCPD has always done a great job with the law enforcement side,” he said. “We hold the suspects accountable and provide justice for the victim. Working with the advocacy side has allowed us to help the victims. Women who may not have realized the danger they were in, simply did not know who to call, or may have just needed some encouragement to take that step, have been able to get help in their situation.”

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