Metro rolls out new program to help domestic violence victims

Larry Flowers - NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - There's a new domestic violence initiative that will soon roll out in the Metro which should help police identify victims who may be at risk for future violence or even death.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the goal of the new program is to save lives.

At the Metro police west precinct afternoon roll call, in addition to getting prepared to hit the streets fighting crime, officers are getting a lesson on a Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment Protocol Training.

"It's to give officers in the field a tool to use to notice that, 'Hey, there are high risk indicators in this relationship that can lead to a person being murdered,'" said Capt. Michelle Richter with Metro Police Domestic Violence Division.

The program is modeled after the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence. The overall goal is to save lives with a simple phone call.

The officer on the scene will call the YWCA and hand the victim their phone so he or she can speak with a counselor.

"We will help create the safety plan in order to figure out how that victim can be saved in that moment," explained YWCA VP of Domestic Violence Services Tracy DeTomasi. "That might be going to a friend or family house, that might mean staying if the perpetrator has been arrested, or that might mean coming to shelter seeking shelter."

According to domestic violence experts, every nine seconds a woman n the US is assaulted or beaten. Also, the risk of homicide increases by 500 percent when a gun is presence in a domestic violence situation, and one in five women and one in seven men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.

Sometimes victims feel trapped.

"If they are going to be murdered by their partner or their spouse, it's most likely going to happen when they attempt to leave," DeTomasi said. "That prevents a lot of victims from leaving."

YWCA officials said no one is immune to domestic violence.

"It doesn't matter if they are rich or if they are poor, if they are black or if they are white; domestic violence has no prejudices," DeTomasi said.

Domestic violence representatives will be attending every single roll call at every precinct in Metro, reminding officers of what the program is about and to answer any questions they may have.

First responders carry a form with a list of questions to ask victims to help determine if they are at risk for future violence. The bottom line is to save lives.

"If we can save lives it impacts everybody because domestic violence impacts everybody around us whether directly or indirectly," Richter said.

The Domestic Violence Lethality program is expected to officially launch in Metro Nashville Dec 1.

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