Springfield Police at the scene of an incident. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Part of a series on domestic violence in Springfield and Greene County. Need help? See related story.

Springfield police use what is called  a “danger assessment” or a “lethality assessment” as a tool to quickly determine how likely it is a victim of domestic violence will be killed by their intimate partner.

The original version was created by Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Campbell is a national leader in research and advocacy in the field of domestic violence.

The Springfield version consists of 11 Yes/No questions as well as two open-ended questions. 

“It can kind of bring to light the gravity of where that relationship is going versus just that one incident that happened that night,” said Springfield Police Sgt. Chris Rasmussen. He oversees the Springfield department’s domestic violence unit.

If the victim answers “Yes” to any of the following three questions, officers are instructed to refer the person to an advocate for victims of domestic violence. They are: 

  • Has he/she ever used a weapon against you or threatened you with a weapon?
  • Has he/she threatened to kill you or your children?
  • Do you think he/she might try to kill you?

If the victim answers “Yes” to four of the following eight questions, officers are instructed to refer the person to an advocate for victims of domestic violence — even if they answered “No” to the first three questions.

 They are: 

  • Does he/she have a gun or can he/she get one quickly?
  • Has he/she ever tried to choke you?
  • Is he/she violently or constantly jealous or does he/she control most of your daily activities?
  • Have you left him/her or separated after living together or being married?
  • Is he/she unemployed?
  • Has he/she ever tried to kill himself/herself?
  • Do you have a child that he/she knows is not his/hers?
  • Does he/she follow or spy on you or leave threatening messages?

The final two questions are:

  • Are you being forced or coerced to do things against your will?
  • Is there anything else that worries you about your safety? (If “Yes”) What worries you?

Springfield police officers have the discretion to refer the victim to an advocate even if all answers are “No” if they conclude the victim is in a potentially lethal situation. 

Victims do not have to answer any of the questions.  

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin