New protocols address response to domestic violence incidents

A training effort for a significant new state initiative to protect victims of domestic violence began in Blanding last week.
A number of state officials, including Lt Gov Deidre Henderson, attended the first training meeting of the domestic violence protocols that were approved during the most recent legislative session.
The protocols are a series of questions that are asked of victims in domestic violence situations. The questions are designed to assess the lethality of the situation.
Domestic violence is growing. In 2022, a cousin of Lt. Governor Henderson was killed in a domestic violence incident, and other high profile incidents, such as the family recently murdered in Enoch, helped bring attention to the growing problem of deadly domestic violence. Estimates are that 30 percent of women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Legislation was passed, funding was increased, awareness has improved, and now the training is beginning.
The training meeting occurred on April 20 at the Blanding Clinic of Utah Navajo Health System (UNHS).
Eventually, meetings will be held across the state involving law enforcement officials and victims advocates with the 16 domestic violence shelters in Utah.
The meetings started in Blanding, where the Gentle Ironhawk Shelter reopened about a year ago.
The new state law requires that approximately a dozen questions are asked at each one of the approximately 20,000 annual law enforcement responses to domestic incidents that occur between romantic partners.
Captain Tanner Jensen, of the Utah Department of Public Safety, conducted the training sessions and explained that the protocols are pointed questions that are asked at the scene to develop an idea of the domestic violence risk.
“It is a structured professional judgment tool that will allow law enforcement to connect the dots to identify a potentially deadly or dangerous situation,” said Jensen.
The response of law enforcement can vary depending on the answers to the questions. Law enforcement and victims advocates will use an app to record the answers and help develop a database.
The simple questions help law enforcement or victims advocates know if a call needs to be made to a shelter or additional resources.
Jen Campbell, Executive Director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, praised the efforts at the Gentle Ironhawk facility in Blanding, which reopened about a year ago after a lengthy closure.
“They are a phenomenal success,” said Campbell, who was effusive in her praise of the “cultural element” of the local shelter, which is operated by UNHS.
“Non-profit entities are doing this important work and they need your support, time, money, funding and talents. The needs at the shelter are very basic, and can be as simple as trash bags and paper towels.”
800-897-5465 is the domestic violence hotline.

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