Embrace with police

Pictured from left, Embrace Domestic Violence Program Coordinator Brittny Olson, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, Chetek Police Chief Ron Ambrozaitis, Cameron Police Chief Mike Lynch, Turtle Lake Police Chief Al Gabe, Rice Lake Police Captain Tracy Hom, Barron County Sheriff’s Department Captain Ron Baures, Barron Police Chief Joe Vierkandt, and Embrace Executive Director Katie Bement. 

 

All seven law enforcement agencies in Barron County have been trained in the nationally recognized domestic violence homicide prevention program, called the Lethality Assessment Program. 

According to Embrace, the Lethality Assessment Program was first developed in Maryland and provides law enforcement an evidence-based lethality assessment instrument to identify victims of domestic violence who are at high risk of being seriously injured or killed by their intimate partner. The program immediately connects the victim to Embrace’s trained advocacy staff to support high-risk survivors in the moment with safety planning and resources. 

Embrace’s mission is to end violence, inspire hope and provide unwavering support to all people affected by domestic and sexual violence by engaging our community in safety, equality and partnership.

The LAP assessment and referral tool is vital for first responders. Research shows that for 28% to 33% of victims, the homicide or attempted homicide is the first act of violence, meaning that observing non-physical tactics by an abuser is critical. 

Additionally, only about 4% of abused women accessed a domestic violence hotline or shelter in the year prior to being killed by an intimate partner, illustrating that those who are perhaps at the greatest risk of homicide are not reaching out for help on their own. 

According to Brittny Olson, Domestic Violence Program Coordinator at Embrace, “That’s why the LAP is so valuable. It capitalizes on the victim’s point of contact with law enforcement and gets victims connected with support and assistance immediately. The LAP has been found to be highly effective.” 

In one study, the LAP tool correctly identified 92% of women who experienced near-fatal violence. Victims who participated in the program also experienced less frequent and less severe violence than victims in the comparison group and engaged in protective actions more often.

After Embrace expanded their advocacy services for domestic and sexual violence survivors to Barron County in January 2019, Embrace’s staff, who are trained facilitators in the program, held LAP training sessions with every law enforcement department. 

“All officers in the county are trained to complete LAP screens with victims and follow referral protocols connecting them to advocacy services and support 24/7. Embrace staff are extremely grateful to law enforcement administration and officers for their enthusiastic response to the life-saving, new program,” reports Katie Bement, Executive Director at Embrace. 

“With domestic abuse being one of the few crimes in Barron County that increased in 2019, we are working directly with Embrace and the victims of these crimes to better serve them,”  said Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. “Implementing LAP is one of the ways law enforcement can reduce verbal and physical violence crimes in our communities.  Our goal is to protect the victim and prevent future violence, and the Embrace team will help with that.”

To date, 15 law enforcement departments in Embrace’s four-county service area of Barron, Washburn, Rusk and Price counties have been trained to use LAP while responding to domestic violence incidents. Training to use the screening and referral tool is available at no cost to participants. Embrace encourages all first responders and medical providers to become trained in LAP.

If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, you are not alone! Embrace is here to help. You can contact Embrace for free, confidential support at 1-800-924-0556 or text 715-532-6976.

 

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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