Police program screens more than 600 in domestic violence survey

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Pittsburgh police have screened more than 650 people since they began offering a new questionnaire to victims of intimate partner crimes, according to statistics released Monday.

Of the 658 people screened since the program began in mid-December, 378 sought follow-up services with a local domestic violence shelter, said Sgt. Eric Kroll, who works at the police bureau's training academy.

Pittsburgh police began using the Lethality Assessment Program -- the Maryland Model last year, after the death of a Larimer woman named Ka'Sandra Wade, who was killed by the father of her child and whose disconnected 911 call and subsequent police response were the subject of an internal investigation.

The survey requires officers to ask questions aimed at predicting whether someone is in danger of being killed by their partner. Among the questions are some asking about whether the aggressor has previously used weapons or has made threats to kill in the past.

In April, officers screened 124 people -- 112 of whom were female and 12 of whom were male. Of those, 84 were deemed "high risk" and 71 sought follow-up services, the sergeant said.

In those cases, men were the aggressors 110 times and women 22 times. Six cases involved people in same-sex relationships, the sergeant said.

He said those numbers are right in line with what the bureau expected based on domestic violence statistics from previous years.

When the bureau began the program, some worried it would increase call response times in areas that are already strapped. Sgt. Kroll said he has not received complaints from any officers to date regarding call times.

He said it is hard to gauge how effective the program has been because it is still only a few months old, but early signs are promising.

"You get the victim help and it gives them a chance," the sergeant said. "There's no guarantee."

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.

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