Laura's Law: Progress for Domestic Violence and Police Response

You may have heard of the Laura's Law that was passed in Arkansas. In case you were wondering,  this is HUGE. The legislation is more than commemorating the death of a mother due to domestic violence. It is giving police officers more tools to evaluate the risk a woman is in when an abusive situation is developing.

Here's how it works - A trained officer arrives at the scene of a domestic violence call. A police officer, (or a community advocate if accompanying law enforcement) will ask questions like, has he/she ever choked you? Does he own an armed weapon?. 

Why are these questions so important? Looking at the research, it has been found that the questions are strong indicators for danger and higher risk for homicide. Research found men who choked their partners were 10 times more likely to eventually kill them. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm. These are just some of the reasons for the 20-question assessment pioneered by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell Ph.D, RN. 

Based on the answers, these questions will give an indication if the victim is at greater risk of homicide. If the community advocate or officer determine that the victim is danger (victim answering yes to 10 or more questions), they offer the victim to phone call to the Domestic Violence Hotline and suggest the victim speaks to a hotline advocate, voluntarily of course. This can provide shelter and other resources to the victim that she may not seek otherwise. 

In Oklahoma, the lethality assessment tool has been a great asset to helping women in abusive situations. Arkansas is following their example and hope to do more for their state. With Mayor Garcetti's plan to expand the DART (Domestic Abuse Response Team) program in Los Angeles, this would be a great addition to our city's protocol. This is a great movement toward legislature that can save lives.