Loudoun County Using Innovative Approach to Domestic Homicide Prevention

ARTICLE | Apr 15, 2016

Law enforcement officers in Loudoun County are now using the Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP) at the scene of domestic violence incidents. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the Leesburg Police Department are using the nationally-recognized, evidenced-based strategy to help prevent domestic homicides.

“We’re learning more about how to possibly save lives by identifying victims who may be in danger of being killed by their partners. Attempted strangulation, threats with weapons, stalking, sexual assault, and obsessively jealous and controlling behavior are some indicators of lethal abusers,” said Kaye Wallace, Project Manager of the Loudoun Domestic Abuse Response Team (D.A.R.T.).

Supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, the LAP is an innovative, approach to domestic homicide prevention that helps first responders identify and respond to domestic violence situations that may become fatal for a victim. First responders are trained to use a standardized set of eleven questions, such as “has he/she ever threatened to kill you or your children," that can predict when a victim is at immediate risk of further harm. If the victim is at risk, they are immediately connected to the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter, a 24-hour service provider, who can help get them out of the potentially dangerous situation and get them the assistance they need. This collaborative process maximizes the skills of each party to ensure the most effective outcome: law enforcement's role protecting victims in danger, and domestic violence advocates’ expertise in providing services that are proven to keep victims safe.

“The Loudoun County D.A.R.T. worked in combination with Loudoun Sheriff Mike Chapman, interim Chief Vanessa Grigsby of the Leesburg Police Department, and Nicole Acosta, Executive Director of the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter, to implement use of this effective instrument in Loudoun County,” said Wallace. “Domestic violence homicides are heart-breaking. We must continue to work to prevent these tragic events.”

For more information, please visit Loudoun County.

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