- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - This October was marked both as domestic violence awareness month and breast cancer awareness month. That’s ironic, Pittsburgh police Sgt. Eric Kroll told residents gathered Wednesday night for a public safety meeting in Sheraden.

“They have two parallels,” he said. “One, it affects a lot of families. The second is, if something’s not done about it, it’s going to be lethal.”

In 2013, city police responded to 10,622 calls for domestic violence, the sergeant said.

“Every shift, an officer is going on a domestic violence call,” Kroll said. “The violence is constant.”

One tool the department is planning to introduce against domestic violence in 2015 is a new smartphone app that directly correlates with the existing Lethality Assessment Program, a survey of 11 questions officers ask on a call scene to prevent intimate partner homicide.

One question on the survey is: “Does he follow you, spy on you or leave you threatening messages?”

Officers administer the surveys to victims in all domestic violence incidents, even if an arrest is not made, Kroll said.

The “LAP app” will allow victims to fill out the survey from their smartphone instead of by hand, which will decrease the amount of time it takes to process and the amount of paperwork involved, the sergeant said.

The app will send the response to a women’s shelter so victims can receive immediate assistance.

LAP was adopted after the killing of Ka’Sandra Wade, who was found shot to death inside her Larimer home in January 2013, one day after Pittsburgh police responded to a disconnected 911 call she made from that address.

Officials have said Ms. Wade was killed by her boyfriend, Anthony L. Brown, who later killed himself in a stand-off.

According to Kroll, some of the women who have taken part in the survey said the process has made them more aware of the dangers they were facing.

“Nationally, only 4 percent of people involved in intimate partner violence, who were victims of homicide, sought services,” he said. “In 2013, of the nine victims in Allegheny County, only one ever sought services. As much of a tragedy as that was, there’s many other Ka’Sandra Wades out there that need our help.”

He said the police bureau uses a three-pronged approach of education — each recruit undergoes 20 hours of training - outreach and enforcement in its response to domestic violence.

“If we come to the scene and we see there are injuries and probable cause, an arrest will be made,” the sergeant said.

As part of the training course, officers also learn how to respond when a protection-from-abuse order is involved.

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