BOZEMAN — Gallatin County law enforcement will be piloting a new domestic violence risk assessment. It’s the first of its kind to be implemented by Montana courts and police, and advocates say it could save lives.
"We are implementing what’s called the APRAIS Risk Assessment. What this is, is a series of questions that officers will ask when they go to a domestic violence call," explains Detective Dave Ferguson.
APRAIS is an evidence-based questionnaire. Developed in Arizona, it is now being used nationwide to assess the risk of escalation and re-offense in domestic violence cases.
"The whole idea behind it is that it gives the judges and everyone more information about bond and what type of conditions might be appropriate for this person," says Ferguson.
Research suggests that certain behaviors increase the risk of fatality, such as strangling. Using the questionnaire allows victims and law enforcement to determine increased risk early on.
Ferguson says, "Something unique about here, and frankly something I'm pretty proud of our whole community here in Gallatin County is that it’s going to be used by all the law enforcement agencies in Gallatin County".
Haven domestic violence response team coordinator Bailey Brubaker explains, "What the purpose is, is to bring the whole community together in making sure we have a combined language in talking about domestic violence. The assessment makes sure we’re using the same language from on scene, all the way to trial."
The county hopes that this will inform officers on where to commit their resources, prevent escalation early on, and keep survivors safe.
"This risk assessment is going to ensure no one falls through the cracks," says Brubaker.