Advocates thank lethality-assessment law for increase in calls

Aug 24, 2023, 4:04 PM

FILE: Purple flags at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. A Utah lawmaker says it's too easy for a rest...

FILE: Purple flags at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. A Utah lawmaker says it's too easy for a restricted person convicted of domestic violence to plead down and serve less time. A new proposal would change the penalty to a second-degree felony and increase jail time to a minimum of one year. (Yukai Peng/Deseret News)

(Yukai Peng/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s promising new data about Utah’s new law that requires law enforcement to conduct lethality assessments on domestic violence calls.

The law, which took effect May 3, 2023, requires lethality-assessment training concurrent with domestic-violence response training for all certified law enforcement officers in Utah.

Mikaylee Gray with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition said 50% more people are calling advocates asking for help since police began using lethality assessments.

“Those people who are at the most risk of being killed are able to access those services because officers are providing this screen at the scene when they respond,” Gray said.

Gray said that fear of taking the first step toward help can keep them from acting. So, even more promising was her finding that 42% of the added calls were from people at high risk of losing their lives to domestic violence.

But a lethality assessment doesn’t predict the future. So Gray encourages anybody who needs help to call 911, the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition at 1-800-897-5465, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, featuring English, Spanish and 200 other languages through an interpretation service.

“Accepting that one phone call when officers respond to the scene, talking with an advocate and just understanding better about what services are available, what might work for your individual situation, can be a really great place to start,” Gray said.

The University of Utah has also compiled this expansive list of resources.

Related: Domestic violence call ends with one dead in officer-related shooting



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Advocates thank lethality-assessment law for increase in calls