Klunk, Local Officials Champion Legislation to Save Lives of Domestic Violence Victims
HANOVER – Flanked by members of the law enforcement community, family members of domestic violence victims and members of the state Legislature at a press conference on Tuesday at the Hanover YWCA, Rep. Kate Klunk (R-Hanover) urged passage of her legislation to implement a potentially lifesaving Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) in Pennsylvania.

“Since Maryland successfully implemented its program, there has been a 25 percent drop in the number of domestic violence-related homicides over the past six years. This commonsense program needs to be instituted across Pennsylvania,” Klunk said. “Far too many lives are at stake to sit idly by and do nothing.”

Klunk’s legislation, House Bill 175, would require police officers to receive training that includes standards for assessing the lethality risk of domestic violence incidents. LAP is a highly effective method for law enforcement to identify victims of domestic violence who are at the highest risk of being seriously injured or killed by their intimate partners.

LAP asks a series of questions, which can indicate an increased risk for homicide. If there is an elevated risk, the responding officer would call a local 24-hour domestic violence hotline to seek advice and would then encourage the victim to speak with the specially trained hotline advocate.

“Deciding to leave an abusive relationship can be very tough for some people. It can also end up being a deadly decision,” Hanover YWCA Executive Director Jody Shaffer said. “Connecting a victim to an advocate can and does save lives. Advocates can provide the advice and guidance a victim needs.”

The Hanover YWCA’s Safe Home Program is just one such location in the area that aids victims of domestic violence, Klunk noted, adding: “I want to thank the Hanover YWCA for hosting us today and for all the work its staff does to protect victims.”

Because cellphones are needed for police departments to implement LAP and not all departments have cellphones, House Bill 175 would establish the Police Department Grant Program, which would be administered by the Center for Local Government Services within the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Police departments would be able to apply for grant funding to cover costs associated with domestic violence response training and other equipment used during incidents of domestic violence.

“Police officers are on the frontlines battling against domestic violence every day,” Chief Gregory Bean, of Southwestern Regional Police, said. “They need the tools to end this heinous crime and ensure victims have the means to escape horrific situations.”

Klunk’s legislation is the result of a tragic event that left two women dead by an abuser. On May 29, 2015, Barbara Schrum escorted her friend, Laurie Kuykendall, to retrieve belongings from Laurie’s former home in York County. Unfortunately, the two women were killed by Laurie’s estranged husband. As such, this legislation, which would prevent further senseless deaths, will be called “Laurie’s and Barbara’s Law.”

“My sister’s death and that of Barbara Schrum were indeed senseless and without cause,” said Karen Nordsick, the sister of Laurie Kuykendall. “Since this tragic event, I have been a strong advocate to end domestic violence and to get this bill passed in law.”

“Since my mother’s death, I have been a vocal supporter of bringing LAP to Pennsylvania, which could save the lives of other victims,” said Alecia Armold, daughter of Barbara Schrum. “These helpless victims need the kind of assistance Rep. Klunk’s bill can provide. I strongly urge the Legislature to make this bill a priority.”

Representative Kate A. Klunk
169th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Greg Gross
RepKlunk.com / Facebook.com/RepKlunk

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