WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – One in three women and one in four men have been victims of domestic violence. That is according to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Here in Wichita, 30 percent of homicides are domestic violence related.
The Wichita Police Department and organizations that are aimed at helping domestic violence victims are partnering to help combat the problem.
WPD Captain Brian White has spent the past two years trying to put together a better way of connecting with domestic violence victims.
White says he attended an event put on by StepStone here in Wichita.
They brought in a national speaker to talk about domestic violence and the lethality program.
White thought it would something he could implement here in Wichita.
In March of 2016, he started a pilot program, training officers at Wichita Patrol North on the Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment.
“When officers are out on the scene of a domestic violence incident, they have a list of questions they ask the victim in an intimate partner case,” said White.
White says the screening process includes a total of about 18 questions.
“There are three questions that if they answer in the affirmative, we immediately know there is a high lethality situation, some of those questions are has your partner strangled you, has your partner threatened your life,” said White.
White says all 100 patrol officers and 25 supervisors at Patrol North are trained on the DV Lethality Assessment.
He says all the patrol cars are outfitted with phones that are designated to call the domestic violence shelters in the area.
“So if that individual scores high enough on that assessment, they have a special number that they use that will simultaneously call the two domestic violence shelters in the area,” said Sheri Copridge, Shelter Manager with the Wichita Family Crisis Center.
Copridge says her staff went through extensive training to be prepared to handle the around the clock phone calls and be able to shelter a victim at a moments notice.
She says the assessment is already paying off.
Copridge has compiled numbers since the pilot program started.
She says between March and December of last year, they received 100 lethality calls, 84-percent of which were new clients.
On average, Copridge says they were getting 15 to 16 lethality calls a month.
Copridge says numbers for 2017, from January to April show they’ve had 13 lethality calls so far this year.
One hundred percent of those calls, Copridge says, are from new clients.
She says they sheltered two women at their facility and helped four others seek help through their outreach programs.
KSN asked Copridge if she thought the assessment was a life saving technique.
“Chances are yes, when they were brought in their lives were saved,” said Copridge.
It’s a sentiment that was echoed by White.
“That is part of what we are looking for is to prevent homicides, that’s the ultimate goal,” said White.
White says he’s modeled this pilot program after several others across the country, including one in Johnson County.
He says his hope is to have the program implemented, city-wide, in the next two to three months.