Fifty-seven police departments across Maryland are adopting a domestic violence program that uses a series of pointed questions to identify those most at risk of being killed and get them immediate aid or counseling, the Washington Posts reports. The effort has connected counselors with hundreds of people who otherwise were unlikely to seek help. Called “lethality assessment,” the program is based on research from experts at Johns Hopkins University.
Under the approach, which has attracted national interest, police who answer domestic 911 calls take a far more involved role with the victims they encounter at the scene. When a case shows a high risk of lethality, police talk to the victim about the danger, phone a counselor immediately, and encourage the victim to talk. Since early last year, 900 people have done so. The questions, 11 in all, probe whether victims have ever been threatened with a weapon, been choked or received death threats. Police ask if the abuser has access to a handgun. Federal data show that 1,181 women and 329 men died in intimate-partner homicides across the U.S. in 2005.