Project PFA: Could a piece of paper save a life? Law enforcement in Lancaster County believe so

LANCASTER, Pa. -- Every year in Lancaster County, law enforcement officials say around 200 protection from abuse orders are violated.

The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office is trying to decrease that number and prevent violent reactions after PFAs are served.

There is one case Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman will never forget

"The one for me, I'll never... It was a long time ago, but the guy he got the PFA, and he sat around for a little bit, waited for half time, play off game. He was a Steeler's fan, waited until halftime, and went over and shot her 17 times."

He is trying to prevent future violence against people after a PFA is served.

"It's going to be a very emotional moment, particularly if there is children involved, and they're being told they can't go home," explained Stedman.

The pamphlets cost around 50 cents a piece, but they could be worth a whole lot more.

"The value can be astronomical," explained Stedman. "Especially, if it gets somebody to not go confront the person they just got a PFA from."

Stedman says it's a second to pause, calm down, and read, instead of reacting.

"It may alleviate the potential fallout from it if the person is fully informed about what it means," explained Christine Gilfillan, the Director of Domestic Violence Services in Lancaster.

Rather than just hand someone legal mumbo jumbo, which a person might not even understand, Lancaster County Deputy Sheriffs now give the pamphlets out too - what to do, and more importantly, what not to do after being served a PFA.

"There was a gap, the offender, really had nothing, and they weren't given any information; it was just was like, 'here's the order, see ya!'" added Stedman.

"We all know domestic violence situations become more volatile if the leaving process is happening," added Gilfillan].

"Everybody wins if they pay attention to the PFA," said Stedman.

The District Attorney's Office has printed 4,000 of the pamphlets since 2016.

There are free, confidential services offered to victims of domestic violence.

Call the free hotline for Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster at (717) 299-1249 or visit its website. 

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