SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that could help protect victims of domestic violence by imposing new requirements on police who respond to those calls.
Senate Bill 117 requires law enforcement agencies in the state to conduct a “mortality assessment” each time they respond to a domestic violence situation. The assessment consists of 12 yes-or-no questions consisting of a research-based model in Maryland This determines how likely it is that a perpetrator will kill a victim.
Gabby Petito’s family plans to visit the Utah State Capitol next week to support the bill, says sponsor Senator Todd Weiler (R-Woods Cross).
On Tuesday, January 24, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice unanimously passed the law.
The questions are listed below:
- Has your attacker ever used a gun on you or threatened you with a gun?
- Has your attacker ever threatened to kill you or your children?
- Do you think your attacker will try to kill you?
- Does your attacker have a gun or can he easily get a gun?
- Has your attacker ever tried to choke you?
- Is your attacker violent, constantly jealous, or controlling most of your day-to-day activities?
- Have you left or separated from your attacker after living with and/or marrying them?
- Is your attacker unemployed?
- Did your attacker attempt suicide?
- Do you have a child that the attacker believes is not their biological child?
- Is your attacker following you, spying on you, or leaving threatening messages?
- Is there anything else that worries you about your safety?
The following findings would require law enforcement to share the findings with the victim and refer it to a victim advocacy organization:
- Answer yes to questions 1 through 3.
- Answer yes to at least four questions 4 to 11.
- Provides a worrying answer to Question 12 to law enforcement.
Weiler said many states across the country have already implemented lethality assessment in their law enforcement units.
“[Imagine] when a woman is told by a police officer: “You are in great danger. I’ll call the women’s shelter right away. Let’s see if they have space. Let’s set up an advisor for you… ‘Those calls and advice don’t come along often,’ Weiler said.
Those findings would also need to be included in an incident report and statewide database that would allow officers to see if an offender had a history of violence.