PA Council Orders Police to Use Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment

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Pittsburgh police will roll out a new domestic violence program next week, but it already has its critics, including the police union’s president who calls it well-intentioned but flawed, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Starting Monday, police officers responding to calls of domestic violence must offer the suspected victims an 11-question survey aimed at predicting the likelihood that they will be killed by their partners. City Council required the Lethality Assessment Program — The Maryland Model after the January death of Ka’Sandra Wade, whose body was found inside her home a day after she made a call to 911 that was disconnected following a struggle.

Two Pittsburgh police officers left the home after speaking through a window only to her partner, who killed himself in a stand-off with officers the next day after tossing them a note suggesting they could have saved her. Ms. Wade’s call was not labeled as a domestic violence call by the 911 center, but rather as a call for “unknown trouble.” Sgt. Michael LaPorte, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1, said he has some concerns. “I guess in just a few words, you’d like to say that if [the questionnaire] saves one person, then it’s worth the effort. That’s the positive way to looking at it,” he said. “From the other end of the spectrum, this is once again City Council trying to fix that which is not broken within the bureau of police.”

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