By: Jon Avise

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar delivered praise Thursday for a Washington County domestic abuse assessment program that county officials say has helped them connect victims of abuse to support services and better gauge the level of danger they face in the future.

Law enforcement, county attorney’s office, community corrections officials and domestic violence victim advocates met with Klobuchar, a first-term Democrat, in Stillwater to discuss the county’s Lethality Assessment Protocol, an 11-question assessment used by each of the county’s law enforcement agencies since August 2010 when responding to domestic disturbances.

The panel of county officials fielded questions from Klobuchar in the board room at the Washington County Government Center and detailed the protocol used by each of the county’s law enforcement agencies that the senator called “a national model.”

The Lethality Assessment Protocol works like this: responding law enforcement officers on the scene of a domestic situation ask the victim a series of 11 questions aimed at measuring how much danger the abused individual is in and helping that person find available assistance more quickly.

“Our goal was really to connect victims with services as early as we can,” said Sandy Hahn, deputy director of Washington County Community Corrections, who was part of the committee

Domestic calls can be some of the most dangerous faced by law enforcement officials, Klobuchar said, highlighted by the fatal shooting last year of a Lake City officer who had responded to a domestic disturbance.

“We know it’s never perfect to do these assessments,” the senator said. “But, it’s better than doing no assessment at all.”