Pilot Testing the Lethality Assessment Program to Reduce Gun-related Intimate Partner Homicides in Los Angeles

Since 2014, intimate partner homicides (IPH) have sharply increased in the United States (U.S.) – a change attributed to gun-related murders.1 Women are the most common IPH victims and, in 2017, Black and American Indian and Alaskan Native females were 2.5 times and 2 times (respectively) more likely to be killed by a male partner than White females. Fifty to 60 percent of these IPHs were perpetrated with firearms.2,3 In 2017, California was the U.S. state with the highest number of females murdered by males in single offender homicides3 and 40% of these cases were in Los Angeles.4 Among IPH cases in Los Angeles, a firearm was present 60% of the time and all cases involved prior domestic violence (DV)-related incidents.5 These facts imply that using a lethality assessment tool, when responding to DV calls, would give first responders insight into each victim’s risk for severe injury and death, leveraging their ability to triage and better prioritize potentially lethal cases and reduce IPH. The Lethality Assessment Program-Maryland Model (LAP)6 provides an ideal intervention, consisting of: (1) a lethality screen for first responders to assess a victim’s IPH risk by asking evidence-based questions such as “does your partner have a gun or can he easily get one?”; and (2) an accompanying referral process to immediately connect victims with community-based DV services. Although Los Angeles City has a Domestic Abuse Response Team (D.A.R.T.) program that pairs DV victim advocates with specially trained Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) D.A.R.T. officers to respond to 911 DV emergency calls, a lethality assessment followed by proactive, immediate service connection is not done.


1. Fridel EE, Fox JA. Gender Differences in Patterns and Trends in U.S. Homicide, 1976–2017 Violence and Gender. 2019.; 6(1): 27-36. http://doi.org/10.1089/vio.2019.0005

2. Violence Policy Center (2019). When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2017 Homicide Data. Retrieved on May 10, 2020 from: http://vpc.org/studies/wmmw2019.pdf

3. Petrosky E, Blair JM, Betz CJ, Fowler KA, Jack SP, Lyons BH. Racial and Ethnic Differences in Homicides of Adult Women and the Role of Intimate Partner Violence — United States, 2003–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017; 66:741–746. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6628a1

4. Cruz NS, Lee I, Marantos J. (2019) As homicides drop in L.A., more women are being killed — often by intimate partners. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on April 10, 2020 from: https://www.latimes.com/projects/women-violence-homicides-increase-death-murder/

5. The Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Death Review Team. (2019). Report of Domestic Violence Fatalities: 2017-2018. Retrieved on May 14, 2020 from: https://da.lacounty.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/LAC-DV-Death-Review-Team-Report-2019-122019.pdf

6. Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV). (2021). LAP Program Overview. Retrieved on November 11, 2021 from: https://www.mnadv.org/lethality-assessment-program/lap-program-overview/

The specific objectives of this mixed-method study are:

Objective 1. To explore types of sexual violence and sexual harassment that Asian students have experienced.

Objective 2. To measure types of racial and ethnic microaggression Asian students have experienced.

Objective 3. To examine how COVID-19 impacted the negative experiences (i.e., sexual violence and sexual harassment and racial and ethnic microaggression) and physical and mental health among Asian students.

Objective 4. To explore the help seeking behaviors and community support Asian students utilize after sexual violence and sexual harassment incidents.

Objective 5. To develop transmedia materials to raise awareness about culturally specific advocacy for Asian student community

The three specific research aims and related project goals are to:

Aim 1: Assess fit, feasibility and agency readiness for implementing the Lethality Assessment Program in Los Angeles. 

The goal is to assess the supports, changes and capacity building activities needed for refining and implementing LAP in Los Angeles.

Aim 2: Use findings from Aim 1 to develop a protocol for replicating the LAP and integrating it into the existing practices of the LAPD officers and DSVP advocates involved in the D.A.R.T. program. 

The goal is to ensure the LAP can reliably be replicated in the setting.

Aim 3: Pilot test the Lethality Assessment Program in three LAPD divisions where D.A.R.T. operates. The goal is to assess the feasibility/acceptability of the LAP model, determine if participants adhere to the protocol, test recruitment and retention methods, and prepare for a future, large-scale effectiveness study in Los Angeles.

This is a two-year project to adapt and pilot the LAP in three LAPD / D.A.R.T. program divisions. The study is using a sequential, mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) design to systematically assess the fit, feasibility and agency readiness for implementing the LAP in Los Angeles City. 

The qualitative data collection for this study is happening in two phases. The first involves in-depth interviews with police officers, D.A.R.T. program leadership, and domestic violence advocates to assess fit, feasibility and agency readiness for implementing the LAP in Los Angeles City. Following the LAP pilot implementation, there will be a second phase of qualitative data collection which will involve in-depth interviews with police officers and victim advocates who participated in the study, as well as in-depth interviews with survivors who received services during the LAP pilot.

Quantitative data will be collected during the pilot via outcome tracking forms that are filled in by law enforcement and DV advocate partners on a weekly and monthly basis. This data will be used to assess implementation outputs; fidelity; and feedback from staff, service recipients, or other stakeholders on the intervention and implementation activities. 

Findings from this study will be used to develop a full-scale study to evaluate the Lethality Assessment Program’s impact on reducing intimate partner homicide in Los Angeles. The findings will also provide information on the feasibility of using a lethality assessment tool to reduce severe intimate partner violence and intimate partner homicide, which can be applied by researchers and practitioners seeking to implement the LAP in other regions.

The project began in July 2020 and will conclude in June 2022.

If this study is actively recruiting participants, please provide recruitment information here. If you have a flyer, please send it to me with this form (i.e., as a separate attachment).

If recruitment information is availed, please also provide the appropriate IRB (i.e., Human Research Protection Program) information here.

Jennifer A. Wagman, MHS, PhD

Principal Investigator

Associate Professor, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health


Michael A. Rodríguez, MD, MPH


Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Family Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA


Deborah Glik, ScD


Professor, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health


Daphne Marvel

Student Research Lead

Graduate Student Researcher, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health


  • MNADV LAP brief
  • Los Angeles LAP pilot brief

Jenesse Center


Peace Over Violence


University of California Firearm Violence Research Center

Dr. Jennifer Wagman


Daphne Marvel