Since new law began, domestic violence referrals spike 83%

Sep 19, 2023, 7:00 PM

domestic violence...

Nicole Schmidt, mother of Gabby Petito, wipes away a tear during a press conference for SB117, a bill advocating for domestic violence protections, at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (Ryan Sun/The Deseret News via AP)

(Ryan Sun/The Deseret News via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — Since its inception on July 1, a new state law standardizes domestic violence levels. Law enforcement statewide conduct a lethality assessment on scene to determine the likelihood of violence for the victim in a toxic relationship. 

With the new law came a flood of referrals to domestic violence service providers throughout the state. 

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition reports an 83% increase in victim referrals to service providers, resulting from the lethality assessments administered by police or first responders, according to Deseret News.

From January to June 2023, the state averaged 238 high-danger assessments each month. When the statewide program took effect in July, the state reported 611 high danger assessments, a 127% increase.

Mikaylee Gray, prevention program coordinator with the Domestic Violence Coalition, joins Dave and Debbie to discuss the spike in referral numbers, the limited resources and how the process works on scene.

Gray said the 83% increase in referrals is putting pressure on domestic violence service providers throughout the state. And that is increasing the wait time for necessary services like shelters.

“We’re seeing a big increase in external-shelter referrals,” Gray said.

If the shelter is full, some service providers are able to offer a couple of nights at a hotel or motel or other types of shelters.

How the assessment works

Gray said the lethality assessment with police works like this:

Officers arrive on scene and separate victim from aggressor and conduct the assessment. Based on the responses from the victim, officers or first responders will make a referral to one of the 18 community-based service providers throughout the state.

Police will give the advocate the victim’s “danger” score. The victim will tell police what services he or she is interested in, such as finding a temporary shelter. The advocate will go over a brief safety plan to immediately move the victim out of harm’s way.

If the victim chooses not to go into shelter, she or he is able to receive services like case management, legal advocacy and clinical therapy, Gray said, adding the wait times for those have grown from a couple of days to at least two weeks across the board.

The Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP) is a 12-question screening tool used by officers and first responders to identify high-risk domestic abuse victims. Some of those question may be:

  • Whether the aggressor has a gun
  • Whether the victim feels the situation is lethal
  • Whether the aggressor has ever used a weapon against the victim
  • Whether the aggressor has threatened to kill the victim or the victim’s children
  • Whether the aggressor is violently or constantly jealous

Domestic violence resources

Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting:


Legislature passes bill requiring police to perform lethality assessment for domestic violence calls

Since landmark domestic violence law took effect, victim referrals are on the rise and shelters are filling up

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

Audience members duck in the crowd during a shooting attempt at a campaign rally for Republican pre...

Kennedy Camarena

Name of man killed in Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally released

The Pennsylvania governor has released the name of the man who was killed in the Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally on Saturday.

8 hours ago

The FBI has identified a suspect in the shooting that occurred at a campaign rally. Republican pres...

Kennedy Camarena

FBI identifies gunman involved in apparent assassination attempt of former President Trump

The FBI has identified the gunman who was involved with the apparent assassination attempt of former President Donald Trump.

11 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump is whisked away by Secret Ser...

Simone Seikaly

PHOTOS: Shots fired at Trump rally, former president injured, spectator killed

Former President Donald Trump was injured by shots that were fired toward a campaign rally stage in Butler, Pa, on Saturday.

12 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surround by U.S. Secret Service ...

Kyle Remund

Former President Trump issues statement after assassination attempt.

After surviving an assassination attempt, Former President Donald Trump has now issued a statement about the attack.

1 day ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is helped off the stage at a campai...

Kyle Remund

Utah leaders respond to shooting at Trump rally

After multiple gunshots were repoertedly fired at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania, Utah and national leaders spoke up about the attack.

1 day ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Servic...


Shooting at Trump rally is being investigated as assassination attempt, AP sources say

A rally held by Former President Donald Trump was interrupted by gunshots fired in an assassination attempt on Saturday.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Since new law began, domestic violence referrals spike 83%