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Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel Presents 9th Biennial Report
April 12, 2012
AUGUSTA – Attorney General William J. Schneider announced that the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel’s 9th biennial report was made available to the public at a press conference today. Joining the attorney general were Governor LePage, Commissioner Morris of the Maine Department of Public Safety, Colonel Williams of the State Police, and Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, chair of the panel.
The report is the product of many dedicated individuals who examined 13 cases of domestic violence homicide that occurred in Maine between March 2008 and July 2011. Their review of the circumstances surrounding these cases clarified the need to recognize the signs of domestic violence and to take the steps necessary to ensure the safety of victims, their families and the general public.
Among the panel’s observations and recommendations are several key themes that emerged from the homicide cases reviewed.
Validated, evidence-based domestic violence risk assessment tools are currently available and would increase various systems’ capacity to respond to perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse. These tools would also provide information helpful to victims when safety planning. Currently, risk assessment in Maine in domestic violence cases is neither routine nor consistent.
An abuser’s suicidality as a precursor to homicide was present in many of the cases reviewed, and yet often went unrecognized as a risk factor by law enforcement, mental health professionals, friends, family members and co-workers. Bystanders, including the general public and professionals alike, must recognize an abuser’s suicidal thoughts and actions as posing potential danger to the abuser’s partner, parents and children.
Firearms continue to be the most often used deadly weapons for individuals who commit domestic violence homicide. Possession of, and access to, firearms in dangerous situations should be examined by criminal justice stakeholders. The current system for relinquishment of firearms, and policies and practices to seize and secure firearms pursuant to state and federal law, requires vigilant examination.