New initiative aims to reduce domestic violence homicides in Mecklenburg County

by: Tenikka Smith Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

An initiative that helped to reduce domestic violence homicides in Maryland by 40 percent is now being used in Charlotte.

Eyewitness News first told you in June that agencies in Mecklenburg County were adopting a program used in Maryland.

Every Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who goes to a domestic violence call will use a form called a domestic violence lethality assessment screen. The form includes questions like “Has he/she threatened to kill you or your children?” and “Does he/she have a gun or can he/she get one easily?”

Kelly Coyne with United Family Services said, "Law enforcement officers who go to the scene of a domestic violence incident will screen the victim, looking for the lethality of the perpetrators -- what might make her more likely to be seriously injured or killed."

After informing the victim of the risks, officers will call a 24-hour hotline staffed by United Family Services and immediately connect victims to resources to get help and get out.

"What we're trying do is put them in a position where they can make an informed decision about their circumstances and situation,” CMPD Capt. Pete Davis said.

Julie Owens with the North Carolina Council for Women survived a brutal stabbing at the hands of her husband 20 years ago.  She now works daily to help victims of abuse escape and believes this screening will help save lives.

"There are factors we know from research that is based on science that makes particular abusers especially lethal,” Owens said.

Coyne said it's important for the community to combat domestic violence with a united front. 

"It makes really everyone seem like they are on the same page and give victims enough support to make that difficult decision to leave,” she said.

Since Nov. 1, CMPD has made more than 60 calls to the 24-hour hotline to get help for high danger victims. It is completely up to the victims whether they choose to use the resources that are made available.