Provided by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office
A statewide domestic violence fatality review board will be formed after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a measure into law Thursday that for the first time aims to examine the issue across Colorado.
Authorities hope the board will let them learn from domestic violence tragedies in order to prevent them. The plan will use the findings to determine better policies and training for professionals who work on domestic violence cases, an area that has become a growing concern in the state.
In 2016, Denver homicides hit a 10-year high — of 56 — in a spike that police blamed on domestic violence. The domestic violence killings included a high-profile shooting at The Alliance Center on Wynkoop Street in which Cara Russell, the 52-year-old former mayor of Buena Vista, was fatally shot by her estranged husband, who then killed himself.
“Colorado is blessed to have incredible community leaders who work tirelessly to prevent the scourge of domestic violence and sexual assault in our state,” Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in a written statement. “As government representatives, domestic violence advocates and citizens, we must always be asking ourselves what we can do better. I believe that by working collaboratively with a diverse group from across our state, the review board will help us better understand the root causes of domestic violence in our communities, and help prevent these unthinkable tragedies from happening in the future.”
Legislation Proposed by AG Coffman Will Now Improve Strategies to Advance Domestic Violence Prevention https://t.co/9Rppx4bH4X pic.twitter.com/s7iST1wwQs
The board will examine all aspects of domestic violence-related deaths, including what was happening in the home, school and at work leading up to a killing, Coffman’s office says.
Coffman backed the measure, Senate Bill 126. It passed unanimously.
Denver established the Denver Metro Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee in 1995, officials say, but until now there has not been a statewide review board.
“Since 2008 we have lost at least 330 lives to domestic violence in Colorado,” DoraLee Larson, co-chair of the metro-area committee, said in written statement. “The creation of this statewide review board is critically important, and represents years of work that has been done by the metro review committee as well as other domestic violence prevention advocates. I am hopeful that communities around the state will use this opportunity to form their own local review teams which will greatly help to inform the work of the statewide board.”
The legislation had bi-partisan backing from state Sens. Bob Gardner, R-El Paso County, and Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, as well as state Reps. Yeulin Willett, R-Grand Junction, and Millie Hamner, D-Dillon.