On Dec. 31, 2012, Ka’Sandra Wade of Larimer did everything she was supposed to do. She called 911 and asked for police to come. She had enough time to give her name and address before the line went dead.
Not long afterward, two Pittsburgh officers arrived at her home. Her estranged boyfriend, Anthony Brown, told the police through a window that everything was fine but refused to allow them into the home or to speak to Wade. Instead of being suspicious, the officers left without interviewing anyone.
When Wade was found dead the next day, the police tracked Brown to his home in Homewood. He confessed to Ka’Sandra’s murder before killing himself.
Public outrage ensued and a police investigation commenced. The district attorney’s office was critical of the officers and domestic violence victim groups pressed for better police training.
Since Wade’s murder, city police have become more proactive about responding to domestic abuse calls. After instituting the Lethality Assessment Program — the Maryland Model in December, officers have interviewed 658 people involved in domestic violence calls.
The questions help police to determine whether someone is in danger from a spouse, partner or relative. Of those interviewed, 378 sought help with local domestic violence shelters. This is an impressive number, since those residents may not have availed themselves of services otherwise.
It’s too late to save Ka’Sandra Wade, but with this new approach by police, Pittsburgh may be spared more tragedies like hers.