Individuals – Mizrachi (2019)

Study Reference:

Mizrachi, D. A. (2019). Stop running in laps: Evaluating the lethality assessment program's effectiveness in reducing repeat intimate partner violence (Doctoral dissertation, University of Nevada, Las Vegas).

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Individuals; Focused; Reactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examines the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s (LVMPD) adoption of the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) for repeat intimate partner violence. The LAP is a risk assessment tool used by officers responding to the scene of a domestic violence incident that is designed to identify victims who are at the greatest risk of being seriously injured or murdered and to provide a channel to local domestic violence services. The LAP process consists of two parts: The Lethality Screen and the Lethality Protocol. The screen itself is an 11-item clinical assessment administered to victims in order to identify if they are in “high danger” or “not high danger”. Items that classify a victim as “high danger” include whether the abuser displays threatening behavior, has access to firearms, and is unemployed (among others). If a victim’s responses establish that they are in high danger, the referral protocol is triggered and the officer informs the victim of their risk and attempts to connect them to domestic violence services. Specifically, the officer attempts to phone a domestic violence advocate while on the scene to educate the victim on safety planning and services.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The authors identified 954 victims involved in a domestic violence police report during January of 2015. The treatment group consisted of victims who received the LAP intervention (59%), while the control group consisted of victims who did not (41%). The authors used multivariate regression models to assess whether victims who received the LAP intervention were less likely to be involved in a subsequent domestic violence incident during the three years following the triggering incident. These analyses controlled for characteristics of the incident, the intimate partner relationship, and demographic characteristics of the victim and abuser. The LAP intervention examined was expected to be associated with a decreased risk of future victimization.

What were the key findings?

Results indicated that victims who received the LAP screen were significantly less likely to experience future intimate partner violence, relative to those who did not receive the LAP screen. However, the ability of the LAP to predict lethality was unclear, as this question could not be answered with the available data.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that the implementation of risk assessments that identify future risks of victimization is necessary to aid victims of intimate partner violence effectively. However, police must focus on consistent application of these risk assessments, along with adequate training on the use of these tools. There is a need for police department officials to understand and prioritize domestic violence so that the community and public officials can acknowledge it as a critical issue. A severe lack of resources allocated to domestic violence hinders officers’ ability to address the problem of repeat intimate partner violence. Lastly, communication and collaboration between patrol officers, victim services, and other criminal justice and social service agencies is pivotal. Improving these relationships may encourage more victims to report crimes.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?