Across the country, many police and law makers are working to better address the issue of domestic violence. Recently, California passed a law expanding the enforcement training on domestic violence. The new training aims to help officers identify whether a situation could become fatal. It will also help officers understand how to better reach out to alleged victims.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 1331, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in late July 2018. Under the new legislation, police will be trained to identify individuals who may be at risk of serious injury or death due to domestic violence and to connect them with resources. This shifts the police focus from simply arresting people on domestic violence to supporting families and preventing more serious situations.

The program, which centers around a lethality assessment in domestic incident, originated in Maryland. The model is now used in various other states to help law enforcement agencies, courts and hospitals respond to potentially dangerous domestic incidents. It involves asking an alleged domestic violence victim key questions to evaluate their risk level, then providing them with a plan to escape the abuse.

California also follows a countrywide protocol for training and best practices in domestic violence cases. Some think it could be beneficial for the lethality assessment and that other aspects of California’s new domestic violence protocol could be used to update the national training, which was last updated in 1992. For those who are accused of domestic violence, discussing their case with an attorney is an important step should legal action be taken by the state.