By: Lindsay Winkley
Does a new state law that aims to better detect, document and respond to strangulation cases — one of the deadliest forms of domestic violence — look familiar?
It should, since San Diego County implemented a very similar protocol months earlier.
The bill, which goes into effect in January 2018, directs all California law enforcement agencies to ask domestic violence victims if they were strangled and to document any evidence of it. Officers and deputies also have to inform victims that strangulation may cause internal injuries and advise them to seek medical attention.
Basically, it requires the same things San Diego County’s own strangulation protocol started requiring of its law enforcement agencies when it was unveiled in February. While local law enforcement agencies will need to be a bit more specific when talking to victims about the dangers of strangulation, they won’t need to change much else to adhere to the new state law.
“We are so proud to have been on the cutting edge of domestic violence solutions in San Diego County,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said in a statement. “Now that the entire state will be required to complete the same steps, we are sending an even stronger message to domestic violence victims that we see their pain and suffering and will fight to protect them from the high risks associated with strangulation.”
Experts say strangulation is a particularly dangerous form of domestic violence. Victims can fall unconscious in seconds and be dead in minutes. In San Diego County, 15 percent of domestic violence-related homicides between 2008 and 2016 were strangulation cases.
Victims who survive can be left with serious, long-term injuries like memory loss, traumatic brain injury and stroke. They’re also more likely to become victims of homicide later — eight times more likely than those who suffer other forms of domestic violence — according to a study done by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office in the 1990s.
Even so, evidence of strangulation can be hard to detect. Victims may not realize the severity of their own injuries. Both the new state law and the county protocol aim to address the problem by requiring investigators to ask specific questions that will help them document evidence of the injury.
A recent grant from the Office of Emergency Services has helped local agencies in this endeavor by funding 130 domestic assault forensic examinations. The exams are conducted by specially trained forensic nurses who record information about injuries — including strangulation — to aid in prosecution. Since February, 73 of those exams have been performed.
A number of law enforcement leaders applauded the new law, saying they hoped it would help bring further attention to strangulation cases.
“By talking about the deadly consequences of strangulation we shine the light on this dangerous crime and keep it out of the shadows,” San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said in a statement.
Article Source: A new state law addressing strangulation looks very familiar
By: Lindsay Winkley