CONCORD — Contra Costa County has received funding to continue as one of four nationwide test sites for a program that aims to prevent domestic violence assaults from eventually resulting in domestic violence homicides.
The lethality assessment program has a simple premise: identify “high risk” domestic violence victims through a set of 11 questions asked by responding police officers. If the 11 questions identify the victim as being at high risk of homicide, police put them in contact with a collaborating social service provider who can help with safe houses, planning and referrals for other services.
The program is based on research done by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, which showed that only 4 percent of domestic violence murder victims nationwide had ever taken advantage of domestic violence program services. Additionally, in 50 percent of domestic violence-related homicides, officers had previously responded to a call there. Finally, Campbell found that re-assault of victims in high danger situations went down by 60 percent if they went into a shelter.