JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- In Johnson City every police officer is now trained and equipped with a resource to help victims of domestic abuse immediately after responding to a domestic violence call.
It’s a partnership with the Johnson City Police Department and the Johnson City/ Washington County Family Justice Center.
The center in Johnson City has been open since July and has served over 100 people, giving victims a place of refuge and resources.
Johnson City police officer Adam Lunceford said he responds to domestic violence calls daily.
He said even when there is an arrest made, “We leave those victims at home still and sometimes they feel like they don’t have an outreach past the police department responding to their residence.”
Now, every officer in Johnson City has a resource to determine how much danger the victim is in, it’s a series of 11 carefully researched and structured questions called a “lethality assessment.”
It also gives the victims a way out. If they screen the situation as dangerous the officer will make a call on scene to Safe Passage, a crisis domestic hotline that can provide the victim with resources for help and if needed a place to stay.
“Most of the people that we have talked to so far since we’ve started the lethality assessment in my experience, they didn’t realize that the Safe Passage was available to them they didn’t realize that the Family Justice Center could provide support,” Johnson City Police Officer Adam Lunceford said
Heather Brack, the Director of the Family Justice Center said in a study on domestic homicides, “Over a third of the time the police had been called out to that residence but only 4 percent of the time had that victim but able to reach out to other service programs that may have been able to help provide safety,” Brack said.
She said the assessment also can give the victims new eyes to see their own situation.
“It’s good for the victim on scene to really hear those questions, maybe it’s the first time they thought about that and hearing themselves answer yes to that might be that moment where they recognize that they are in a very dangerous environment,” Brack said.
Brack said about 60 percent of the victims they give the assessment to are determined to be in dangerous situations and are given the option to get out.
And over Sullivan County, a Family Justice Center is set to open in 2018.Copyright 2017 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.