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Valley law enforcement urged to adopt domestic violence protocols

In Virginia, three police officers were shot last weekend, one of them killed on her first day on the job.

All were on domestic violence-related calls, one of the most dangerous for both police and victims.

“We don’t even have to look as far away as Virginia,” said Glendale Police Sergeant Patrick Beumler. “This happened just within the last couple of years up in Flagstaff where there was an officer killed on a domestic violence call for service.”

In Phoenix, there is a push to treat domestic violence cases more carefully. New best practice protocols for Valley officers responding to domestic violence calls have been approved by the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Domestic Violence Council.

“It makes it a more informed approach to domestic violence calls for service for officers, which in turn makes them more safe,” Beumler said, “and we don’t see as many officers being injured or killed on these calls for service.”

And of course, it makes it safer for victims as well.

Since 2012, the City of Glendale has implemented a lethality assessment for suspects that is recommended in the model.

“Since we’ve employed that assessment protocol, we’ve seen our homicide rates for domestic violence decrease,” Beumler said. “In 2012, we believe it was around 36 percent of our homicide cases were domestic violence-related.”

For 2015, that dropped to 15 percent of their cases, he said.

Part of the new protocols allow judges to view the lethality assessment when they’re making a determination on bail or release conditions during an initial appearance. Previously, that wasn’t allowed.

“When we’re able to provide that information to the judges, we’re seeing a lot more cases where the offenders being in custody,” he said. “Or the judge sets a really high bond because of the excessive risk to the victim by letting that abuser out.”

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