Lethality Assessment Leads Women to Domestic Violence Shelter

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. -- Johnson County's domestic violence shelter says a new program is saving lives -- but also stretching their resources as thin as they can go.

It's been one year since police departments in Johnson County started doing the so called "lethality assessments." That's where police get a domestic violence call, and officers are trained to ask a few questions to gauge whether the woman's life could be at risk.

The domestic violence shelter Safehome says over the last year they got one thousand more calls into their hotline, so that's up about 25-percent. Most of those were calls from police because of that lethality assessment.

"This is reaching a group of people we probably never reached," says Sharon Katz, Safehome's executive director. "People who wouldn't have picked up that phone and made the call, people who don't realize the danger they're in."

Katz says women take the assessment seriously, probably because of who is doing it.

"If it's a police officer telling you 'I'm afraid you're going to be killed' that has a huge impact," says Katz.

Safehome says it's had to staff more people to handle the increased hotline calls. It's also had so many women needing emergency shelter, they've had to set up women and children to sleep on sofas and mattresses on the floor. Safehome is working to raise money to meet this increased need.

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