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Domestic Violence Tool To Be Implemented By Police Statewide

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The tool is a domestic violence lethality screen for first responders, a checklist with 11 questions that officers will be required to have in their car to give to victims of domestic violence. The tool is a domestic violence lethality screen for first responders, a checklist with 11 questions that officers will be required to have in their car to give to victims of domestic violence.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Soon, police departments around the state will be required to have an extra tool to help those in domestic violence situations. A tool officials said can help save lives.

That tool is a simple piece of paper.

It is a domestic violence lethality screen for first responders, a checklist with 11 questions that officers will be required to have in their car to give to victims of domestic violence.

And it shows them where they can turn for help.

Often times when an officer walks up to a domestic related call, they don't know what they will encounter on the other side of the door. Now, they will have another way to help someone who is being mentally or physically abused.

"The officer will ask the question, and depending on the answer, they can sit down with the victim and say ‘you may not realize it, but this is a terribly lethal situation - and based on your responses, we know this is going to go from bad to worse,'" Representative Kay Floyd said.

Floyd helped write the bill that will now require officers statewide to ask those questions to help assess a person's potential risk of danger and death.

Floyd said the YWCA's shelter is in her district, and it is one of the main reasons she became passionate about this issue. She has pages and pages of information on domestic violence that fueled her desire to do something about it.

"A lot of people in those situations are so traumatized, and just so used to the tragic pattern, that they don't really understand how bad it really is," Floyd said.

Captain Kim Flowers heads up the domestic violence division at the Oklahoma City Police department.

"For a lot of victims, it's a way of life," said Flowers. "And it is a vicious cycle."

Flowers said that vicious cycle is a hard one to break, and many victims don't know where to turn.

"One victim said if it wasn't for the officer that arrived that particular day, she wouldn't be alive right now," Flowers said.

While Flowers admits it is extra work for officers, she said their main mission is to help victims.

"That's really the long term goal," said Flowers. "It is to get them the help where they can walk away and not have to be the victim anymore."

Governor Mary Fallin just signed the measure into law last month. It is expected to take effect November 1.

In fact, both Oklahoma City and Tulsa police were part of a three-year study to determine how effective these checklists really are, and it turns out more people sought out help because if it.

Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for domestic violence related deaths.

Those same studies show back in 2012, Oklahoma City police responded to more than 36,000 domestic violence calls. That was an average of 100 each day or one every 15 minutes.

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