DENVER (CBS4) – Some state lawmakers think there are missed opportunities to save victims of domestic violence in Colorado and they want to change that.
There were nearly 40 deaths related to domestic violence last year alone. In a Senate committee hearing that took place on Monday survivors asked lawmakers to step in with a statewide fatality review board aimed at learning from domestic violence deaths so they can be prevented.
Jenn Doe went to the state Capitol on Monday carrying with her a picture of her best friend from grade school — and a chilling memory of how she died. Ten years ago Doe’s estranged husband repeatedly stabbed both women. Doe survived, but her friend didn’t.
“She really was there to protect me and I don’t know if she had not been there if I would have lived through that incident,” Doe said.
Doe was among those testifying in favor of a bill that would create a statewide domestic violence review board. Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, is the lead sponsor of the bill aimed at learning from tragedies like Doe’s.
“We want to save lives. We want to be able to get to these situations prior to someone dying,” Guzman said.
The board would bring together experts from various fields, including prosecutors, to study cases in confidence and look for missed opportunities to intervene.
“It’s an open dialogue, presumably, on closed cases that had horrible results … and what can we all do in terms of looking in the mirror and saying, ‘What can we do better?'” Tom Raynes with the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council said.
“It’s not about pointing fingers, it’s not about finding fault at all,” Doralee Larson with the Denver Domestic Violence Review Board said. “It’s about, ‘What can we do better to prevent these deaths?'”
The Denver Domestic Violence Review is the model for the statewide board.
“All of these pieces really need to come together so we have a bigger picture and the true collaboration can stop this heinous act,” Larson said.
Under the bill, the Attorney General’s Office — which pushed for the board — would head up reviews. The board would also include survivors, Social Services, police, prosecutors, medical professionals and domestic violence advocacy organizations.
The bill has bipartisan support. Republican Sen. Bob Gardner is cosponsor and the bill has a good chance of passing.