CUDAHY/RACINE -- Law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin are implementing a new tool aimed at helping victims of domestic violence who are at a high risk of being killed.
Cudahy Police Chief Tom Poellot was instrumental in implementing the "Lethality Assessment Program" back in 2014 for all Milwaukee County law enforcement agencies. Thanks to its success, starting Wednesday, February 1st, agencies in other counties are launching the program to help in their communities as well.
When responding to domestic violence calls, Racine police officers are now equipped with special training to help them identify whether a victim is at a high risk of being killed by their abuser.
"It allows the officer to assess the situation on some criteria other than just their gut feeling," Sgt. Steve Herold said.
The "Lethality Assessment Program" is a screening mechanism. If victims answer "yes" to a certain number of specific questions, they're considered high risk, and officers must immediately call a domestic violence victims' advocate for further assistance.
The program was first launched in Milwaukee County in December of 2014.
"Domestic violence work is homicide prevention work," Chief Poellot said.
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"When we look at domestic violence homicides after the fact, we see all the warning signs. We see that the situation developed into something that became very tragic. The goal of the LAP is to identify these situations in advance of the homicide, and prevent that homicide from occurring," Chief Poellot said.
In all, there are 54 law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin now utilizing this program, and all new police recruits must take a class on the topic.