How 11 Questions Can Save Lives

SML Police

In just ten minutes or less, police officers can determine a person’s risk of becoming a homicide victim using the lethality assessment. During these crucial moments, if using the assessment, the police officer asks eleven yes-or-no questions. Based on the victim’s response and how many times they answer “Yes”, law enforcement can better determine if the victim, or their children, is at high risk of becoming a homicide victim.

This assessment is an award-winning and nationally recognized process that is proven to prevent domestic violence-related homicides. In Utah, where 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men are victims of domestic abuse, this assessment can literally save hundreds of lives as well as prevent children from being caught in a violent situation. However, while it is widely used in Utah, it is not a requirement that law enforcement uses this assessment which could result in a case not being understood for its seriousness.

In a recent article published by KSL, the lethality assessment program, or LAP, is discussed in relation to the horrific murder of Amanda Mayne who was killed by her ex-husband. In an interview with a spokesperson for the Salt Lake City Police department, it is further explained that the LAP is not required for police to use as there are concerns the current shelter capacity for domestic violence victims in the state of Utah is not enough to accommodate an increase of victims if the State begins to require this protocol. In an article released by Utah’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program from the Utah Department of Health in 2020, between 2009-2016 in Utah, 54% of homicides committed by an intimate partner had prior known cases of domestic violence. 44% also experienced financial difficulties by one or both partners prior to the homicide. It is shown that Intimate Partner Homicide is both predictable and preventable through use of the LAP Assessment and other important resources, like the temporary housing Domestic Violence Shelters provide. 


The Utah Office for Victims of Crime (UOVC) provides crime victim compensation through the Crime Victims Reparations (CVR) program. This program can pay for expenses following an act of crime for the victim or deceased victim’s family such as medical care, counseling, and funeral costs. UOVC paid out nearly $700,000 to IPV and DV-related victims’ family members. Family members received services such as: funerals, travel, medical costs, mental health counseling, and loss of wages.” Domestic Violence is an expensive, and devastating issue in our state, and utilizing the LAP assessment may in fact reduce the funding paid out through the Crime Victims Reparations program, allowing more funding from the State of Utah to go directly to Domestic Violence Service Providers to increase shelter services and capacity. 

South Valley Services is one of two domestic violence shelters in Salt Lake County and is the only one to serve both men and women as well as have a secure location. We work closely with local police departments and take in as many clients as possible. However, this often leaves us at full capacity and unable to take in more new clients when needed. Every financial and in-kind donation we receive goes towards making clients and their families living in shelter more comfortable after living through horrific events while also setting them up for future success. These financial and in-kind donations also allow South Valley Services to place survivors and their families in temporary emergency shelter until a bed becomes available, giving survivors a safe place to stay immediately following an incident of domestic violence and completing the LAP assessment, something which is key to preventing Intimate Partner homicide. Along with these donations going towards in-shelter clients, they also go towards clients living in our communities,as well as always working towards the goal of serving more victims of domestic violence.


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