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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 11, 2017 04:03 PM
From: Representative Kate A. Klunk
To: All House members
Subject: Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that will amend Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to require minimum standards for training municipal and state police officers in responding to domestic violence calls. The training will include standards for assessing the lethality risk of domestic violence incidents. This legislation will also establish the Police Department Grant Program.

Lethality assessment is a highly effective method for law enforcement to identify victims of domestic violence who are at the highest risk of being seriously injured or killed by their intimate partners. The program asks eleven questions, which can indicate an increased risk for homicide. If there is an elevated risk, the responding officer states that he/she is going to place a call to the local 24-hour domestic violence hotline to seek advice and to encourage the victim to speak with the specially trained hotline advocate.

Because cell phones are essential for police departments to implement the Lethality Assessment Program and not all departments have cell phones, this legislation will establish the Police Department grant Program, which will be administered by the Center for Local Government Services within DCED. Police Departments may then apply for Grant funding to cover costs associated with domestic violence response training and other police equipment used to respond to incidents of domestic violence.

This legislation will be known as Laurie and Barbara’s law and is being introduced in memory of Laurie Kuykendall and Barbara Schrum. Laurie and Barbara were killed in a domestic violence incident on May 29, 2015 by Laurie’s estranged husband when the two attempted to retrieve belongings from Laurie’s York County home. Since this tragic incident, Laurie and Barbara’s families have been strong advocates for the use of lethality risk assessments in domestic violence situations.

In light of the many recent tragic deaths of police officers responding to domestic violence calls, it is imperative that officers are equipped with the tools they need to properly respond to and cut down on reported domestic violence calls.

I encourage you to consider co-sponsoring this important legislation that will not only save lives of domestic violence victims, but will also help to save the lives of our police officers.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns regarding this legislation, please contact my office at (717) 630-8942.

Thank you.

Introduced as HB175