Nevada

Suicide victim’s family urged support for domestic violence bill

 

SALT LAKE CITY. Mandy Maine’s father showed her photo to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Mandy was a very sweet girl,” Kent Maine told lawmakers. “Beautiful girl. Beautiful smile”.

Maine and his wife Shona spoke about the death of their daughter at the hands of her ex-husband. She was shot 11 times at a bus stop in Taylorsville before committing suicide. Their house has been called before because the ex threatened Mandy.

On Tuesday, they were on Capitol Hill in Utah to testify in support of Senate Bill 117which changes how the police respond to calls about domestic violence.

“This could have saved Mandy’s life and we believe it will save lives in the future,” Shauna Maine said.

Sitting with them was Mandy’s cousin, Lieutenant Governor Deirdre Henderson, who said: what her family went through revealed some gaps in the system who tries to protect people from harm.

“There are a lot of people, a lot of victims, a lot of families that have been affected, and I wanted to see if we could find ways to improve the situation,” Lieutenant Governor Henderson said.

SB117 requires all police agencies in Utah to conduct what is known as a “lethality assessment” when responding to a domestic violence or family fight call. It requires officers to ask a series of questions about fear of violence, past threats, and even whether someone has been strangled in the past. This will help determine whether someone should be referred to a crisis shelter or domestic violence service.

Currently, only half of Utah’s police agencies conduct such assessments. This will require everyone to fulfill them. The bill also creates a database to track these calls and makes it available to all law enforcement agencies.

“So when an officer responds to situations like this, he can see if the victim or alleged perpetrator has been involved in similar calls in the past, even if no charges have been filed,” said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods. Cross. “Because right now, if they think it’s the first time, officers tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If they had known it was the third time this week, they would probably have reacted differently.”

There have been a number of domestic violence-related murders in Utah recently. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Senator Weiler raised death of eight people by murder-suicide in Enoch. He told FOX 13 News that his bill is getting support from the families of other victims.

“Lauren McCluskey, four and a half years ago, these officers did not know about the warrants, so there was no synthesis of information,” Sen. Weiler said, referring to the murdered University of Utah student. “Gabby Petito’s family contacted me, they support this bill.”

The bill received widespread support from law enforcement agencies and advocates for victims of domestic violence. Acting Woods Cross Police Chief Adam Osoro said his community has benefited from doing death assessments and he believes it has saved lives.

“We need all the tools we can get,” said Erin Jemison, policy director for the Domestic Violence Coalition in Utah. “The case fatality assessment tool is based on evidence.”

The bill passed unanimously and has now been submitted to the full Senate. After the hearing, Lieutenant Governor Henderson hugged her family members.

“No parent is eager to come into the legislature to debate legislation on behalf of their daughter,” Kent Maine told reporters. “It usually means something bad has happened. I hope this means something good is coming.”

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