Two weeks before Gabby Petito’s disappearance, Moab Police responded to a domestic violence tip, at the van she was traveling in with her fiancée.
Bodycam video shows Petito was not given a Lethality Assessment Protocol to connect her with domestic partner violence resources.
It’s a protocol local law enforcement say they take very seriously.
“It’s not uncommon for saving grace to see an uptick in the number of calls when there is something very high profile that happens in the community,” said Trish Meyer the Assistant Executive Director of Domestic Violence services, Saving Grace.
Gabby Petito’s disappearance is one of the thousands of domestic violence cases nationwide.
Last year, there were 703 arrests and 584 offenses relating to domestic violence in Deschutes County alone; 79 of those arrests were for aggravated assault.
In Central Oregon, all law enforcement officers use a technique called the Lethality Assessment Protocol to determine if a survivor is in life-threatening danger.
“So that lethality protection protocol, it takes place when there is a domestic violence arrest involving intimate partner violence or when the officer has reason to believe there is high risk in this relationship,” said Meyer.
“So if there’s a circumstance where that someone doesn’t end up going to jail or there’s not evidence of a crime we can still go through the lethality screening process,” said Sgt. Jayson Janes of the Deschutes County Sheriff Office.
The process is a list of questions addressing various risks for the individual and their partner.
“Like it could be if someone is unemployed, somebody has children that are not their own, if people have recently separated, or if the survivor has left the relationship. there are these different factors that combined really up the ante for potential homicide or serious injury,” said Meyer.
After the test is taken, the “score” determines if first responders will remove them from the situation and connect the survivor to immediate resources like saving grace .
“So if we can give someone a ride somewhere, so they can cool down before they talk that’s what we like to do. We can even put someone up in a hotel room if need be just to remove them from that situation,” said Janes.
Meyer encourages those witnessing or experiencing intimate partner violence in the Central Oregon area to reach out to Saving Grace.
She also encourages those who know a survivor to provide support, as the Petito case can be a painful reminder to some.