Gallatin County law enforcement will begin using domestic violence risk assessment
When law enforcement in Gallatin County responds to a domestic violence call, they will ask victims to fill out a voluntary risk assessment that will help victims determine how much danger they may be in and be used by officials to hold perpetrators accountable.
Bailey Brubaker works for Haven, a nonprofit that helps domestic violence survivors. She says her team can use the assessment to help people develop a safety plan, whether that be shelter or other resources.
“Ideally the impact of the survey will be to save lives, reduce the number of homicides, reduce the number of strangulations that we have here in the Gallatin Valley when it comes to domestic violence,” she said.
Gallatin County Attorney Audrey Cromell says the assessment will be shared with the defense counsel, judges, and prosecutors.
“We can recommend a higher bond if we think that someone should be separated and remain incarcerated. We can recommend other conditions of release such as a firearm restriction, no contact order, alcohol and drug prohibitions, GPS units on the defendant, so that there’s a circle of safety around the victim,” she said.
According to Lieutenant Matt Lennick, The Billings Police Department has used the assessment for the past several years.
Detective Dave Ferguson with the Bozeman Police Department says all of the patrol officers working for Bozeman PD will be trained on how to administer the questionnaire, which is known as theArizona Intimate Partner Risk Assessment.
“Unique thing that we’re doing here is that we’re rolling it out county wide. It’ll be the Bozeman Police Department; it’ll be our sheriff's department; it’ll be Belgrade law enforcement. It’ll be every law enforcement, prosecutor and judge in Gallatin County will be aware of what this system is,” he said.
The legislature passed alaw this past session that allows courts to reference these assessments for defendants who are charged with a violation against an intimate partner.