- Associated Press - Saturday, June 25, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Metro Nashville Police Department is training officers to assess domestic violence situations for how likely they are to turn deadly.

Capt. Michelle Richter, who leads the domestic violence division, told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/28YLPJI) that about a quarter of Nashville police calls are domestic-violence related.

Soon, the officers taking those calls will ask 12 questions to determine the likelihood of future deadly violence. If they determine the situation is very dangerous, they will call the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, where counselors can provide the victims with information on housing, community support groups and legal services. That’s a change from just giving the YWCA’s number to a victim and letting the person decide whether or not to call.

“First responders, they’re the ones that are out there answering the calls when it’s fresh on the victim’s mind,” Richter said. “It’s important to educate officers of the seriousness of the situation, but also the victims. A lot of times people don’t understand the seriousness of their situation or the resources available to them.”

According to the Violence Policy Center, Tennessee tied for the sixth highest rate of women killed by men in domestic homicides in 2013, the most recent year for which data was available.

The new police assessment is part of an ongoing effort in Nashville to better help domestic violence victims. It is funded by a federal grant, according to Diane Lance, director of the city’s Office of Family Safety.

“Doing the lethality assessment program in Nashville really is an idea that originated out of the Safety and Accountability Assessment that we did from 2011 to 2013,” she said. “That was one of the top recommendations that came out of it.”

She said more than 30 other cities use the protocol, which is considered a best practice.

“Having Metro Government connecting victims to our nonprofit community services is really vital,” Lance said.

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Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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