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House Bill 175 focuses on domestic violence homicides

In Pennsylvania, House Bill 175 was recently introduced. The goal of the bill is to cut back on the total number of homicides in the state that are related to domestic violence.

For starters, the bill would work just to train law enforcement officers more thoroughly in this specific area. There are cases where police officers may know that a situation is dangerous, but they never realize it's going to go so far until someone is killed. The bill sets up a Lethality Assessment Program, which would ideally make it easier for police to see the potential for a homicide in advance and then take steps to prevent it.

Police officers would start by asking a predetermined set of questions. They would apply those answers to a lethality scale. If it ranked low, extra action may not be needed, but a high ranking would then prompt the officer to call a 24-hour domestic violence hotline. This would connect him or her with a local shelter, and the victim could then communicate with the shelter.

It's not all about identifying threats, though. The shelter would act quickly to take the victim out of the dangerous situation and provide a safe and secure living space. Supporters say that this cuts back on the odds of re-victimization by a full 60 percent.

That's not the end of the case, of course, but just a way to prevent a fatality by acting quickly while that case plays out. It's still important for those involved to know about protection orders and all of the other options that they have.

Source: ABC27.com, "House bill aims to prevent domestic violence-related homicides," Matt Heckel, Aug. 23, 2017

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