By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4) – A bill before state lawmakers would enlist the help of hairstylists in combating domestic violence in Colorado.
There are 57,000 barbers and cosmetologists in Colorado and supporters of the measure say they are well-positioned to recognize the signs of abuse.
“Our clients really are our friends. We see them every four to six weeks often times … and really they divulge a lot of their personal detailed information about their lives with us,” said Lyndsay Wilson, owner of Glamour Bar in Denver.
Wilson testified in support of the measure that would require training for all cosmetologists, barbers, estheticians and nail technicians when they get a license or renew a license.
“It requires one hour of online one-time training to the professions that fall under the Cosmetology and Barbers Act to recognize the signs of domestic violence; and if they think it’s appropriate and would be welcome, to offer information to a client on how they might get help,” said Rep. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder, the sponsor of the bill.
Hooton brought the bill after two deadly domestic violence cases in her community, including Ashley Mead who police say was killed and dismembered by her ex-boyfriend.
“There’s no mandatory reporting. There’s no civil or criminal liability. It’s just giving some very important practical information to these professionals,” Hooton said.
Wilson says she welcomes the resources to help her know what to look for and what kind of help is available.
“The fact that we have a personal touch with them … they feel more comfortable and that kind of creates a connection to divulge secrets,” Wilson said.
The bill passed the House Public Health Care and Human Services committee, but Republican leadership in the House is opposing it, saying it’s an unfunded mandate and they see it as a step toward mandatory reporting.