SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that could help protect victims of domestic violence by mandating new requirements for police responding to these calls. 

Senate Bill 117 requires law enforcement in the state to perform a “lethality assessment” anytime they respond to a domestic violence situation. The assessment comprises 12 yes-or-no questions derived from a research-based model in Maryland that is used to determine how likely will an abuser kill a victim. 

Gabby Petito’s family plans on visiting the Utah State Capitol next week to support the bill, sponsor Sen. Todd Weiler (R-Woods Cross) says.

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, the Senate Judiciary Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee passed the bill unanimously.

The questions are listed below: 

  1. Has your aggressor ever used a weapon against you or threatened you with a weapon? 
  2. Has your aggressor ever threatened to kill you or your children?
  3. Do you believe your aggressor will try to kill you? 
  4. Does your aggressor have a gun or can easily get a gun? 
  5. Has your aggressor ever tried to choke you?
  6. Is your aggressor violently or consistently jealous, or controls most of your daily activities?
  7. Have you left or separated from your aggressor after living with them and/or married? 
  8. Is your aggressor unemployed?
  9. Has your aggressor attempted suicide?
  10. Do you have a child the aggressor believes is not their biological child?
  11. Does your aggressor follow or spy on you, or leave threatening messages?
  12. Is there anything else that makes you worried about your safety? 

The following results would require law enforcement to share the results with the victim and refer them to a victim advocate organization:

  1. Answering yes to any questions 1 through 3. 
  2. Answering yes to at least four questions 4 through 11. 
  3. Provides a concerning answer to question 12 to law enforcement. 

Weiler said many states across the country have already implemented the lethality assessment in their law enforcement units.

“[Imagine] if a woman is told by a police officer, ‘You’re in grave danger. I’m going to call the women’s shelter right now. Let’s see if they have space. Let’s get you set up with a counselor…’ Those calls and that advice is not often given,” Weiler said. 

These results would also have to be included in an incident report and a statewide database, which would allow officers to see if an offender had been accused of violence in the past.