Lawmakers push for specialized domestic violence training for police officers in Pennsylvania

YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- 102 men and women were killed in Pennsylvania last year during domestic violence-related incidents, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Two women and a state representative want to better train police officers for those high risk situations.

Alecia Armold lost her mother, Barbara Schrum, and Karen Nordsick lost her sister, Laurie Kuykendall, when the two women drove to Kuykendall's home in Warrington Township to pick up some belongings in May, 2015.

Kuykendall's estranged husband was there at the time and shot both women to death before killing himself.

"Although, my sisters gone and in heaven, I still have two daughters I worry about everyday," said Karen Nordsick.

Now, Alecia and Karen want to help other victims of domestic violence, partnering with State Represenative Kate Klunk to draft House Bill 175 or Laurie's and Barbara's Law.

"The goal of this legislation is to one, get the victims the domestic violence care they need. Two, to empower them to change their lives for the better," said (R) Representative Klunk of Hanover.

House Bill 175, if enacted, would require police departments across Pennsylvania be trained in the Lethality Assessment Program or LAP. That's an 11-step questionnaire, officers would be required to ask suspected domestic violence victims.

"Have they been verbally abusive to you? Have you received physical abuse from your abuser?" explained Rep. Klunk.

"What Lethality Assessment does is a tried and true process where the officer can ask questions and almost immediately find out how bad a situation is," said Chief Gregory Bean of Southwestern Regional Police.

Then, depending on the lethality, officers would immediately call a domestic violence hotline; bill advocates say this step is crucial because the victim is now connected with help rather than having to seek it alone. Chief Bean says his department already uses Lethality Assessment, and it's been very successful there.

"This is very, very good for law enforcement where we can give the victims to someone to somebody else who can help them - so we can drive away from that house, that scene, and be sure they've gotten the best help they can," added Chief Bean.