Winnebago County board committee votes to renew program to prevent domestic violence homicides

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Preventing domestic violence homicides. That’s what Winnebago County’s lethality assessment program, or LAP, sets out to do. Thursday, the county board’s finance committee approved an extension to the contracts for the initiative.

“Why not support it?” said Winnebago County board member Jaime Salgado (D). “I mean it’s one of those things, statistics speak for themselves. It’s an issue we need to tackle at this point in time.”

During domestic calls, Rockford Police and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office determine if a LAP needs to be completed.

“If it is administered, the officers ask the victims on scene a series of 11 questions,” said Winnebago Co. Domestic Violence Coordinated Courts Project Manager Nicole Ticknor. “[Those questions] determine if they are at a high risk of being murdered by their partner.”

Those victims are then connected with Remedies Renewing Lives advocates.

Since November 2017, law enforcement have completed over 6,000 assessments and nearly 60% of those have scored in high danger.

Over 700 survivors have received services.

“Not only is it helping educate survivors about the lethality risk that they may experience but also its educating law enforcement in how to respond to survivors,” said Ticknor. “It’s bridging a gap between law enforcement advocacy services, it’s really helping our community collaborate to fight domestic violence.”

LAP was established with a $1.5 million federal grant. The funds cover training, three Remedies advocates, a LAP project manager & coordinator, interpreters, phones for officers and an analyzing agreement.

Northern Illinois University is the county’s research partner.

“They accumulate all the data for the lethality assessment program and then they’re analyzing that,” said Ticknor. “Then, looking to see if this program is effective countrywide.”

The LAP contract extensions will now go to the full county board for consideration.

NIU will continue to gather data from the Sheriff’s office and Rockford Police through July 2020, then it will take all the numbers and analyze the data.

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