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Domestic violence tasks force gets update from LPD

A LaGrange Police Department program meant to help victims of domestic violence is making a difference, based on numbers discussed Wednesday during the Troup County Violence Task Force’s Lunch and Learn Event at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center.

Investigator Charles Brown with the LaGrange Police Department was the guest speaker and talked about the new protocol, which was started January.

The program is called the “Lethality Assessment Program Maryland Model.” Since its was implemented, there have been 114 reports of family violence cases worked by the LaGrange Police Department. Brown said 58 percent of those cases screened into the program.

“To me, it seems to be working,” he said.

When officers arrive on the scene at a potential domestic violence case, they go through the lethality screening. Officers ask a series of questions, starting with three that automatically qualify a victim for the program.

Those three questions ask the victim whether or not the aggressor in the situation has ever used a weapon against them, has threatened them or has threatened their children, and a “yes” response to any of them is an automatic referral into the program.

The officer also asks eight other questions, typically needing four “yes” responses to refer someone into the protocol, which includes placing a call to Harmony House, a state of Georgia certified shelter that serves victims of domestic violence 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Officers also ask the victim about their safety, which automatically can qualify someone for the program.

The victim is immediately put in contact with a counselor when their answers screen them into the program.

After explaining the program, Brown and officer Jennie Lawson took questions. One of the biggest discussions was about the timeline of the program and how long it takes to get a victim of domestic violence in contact with someone from Harmony House and other resources after a police report is filed.

“Getting them in contact with that other person to talk to immediately and getting them out of that situation immediately or as close to immediately as you can, makes a world of difference,” Brown said.

There were also several suggestions made, including adding a question asking the victim if they had sought a temporary protective order in the past and asking for email address.

A lot of times people move and change phone numbers before officers or someone trying to help can get in contact with the victim.