The proposed legislation says the board would be appointed and chaired by the state’s attorney general. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman told Denver7 Investigates she supports the legislation and her office helped draft it.
“The purpose of creating a statewide domestic violence fatality review board is to look for trends, patterns and gaps in how domestic violence is identified and how law enforcement and social service agencies respond to it,” Coffman said. “It's about prevention and intervention. And it's about discovering what the red flags are in domestic violence situations so we can intervene to prevent domestic violence fatalities.”
Coffman said the board would call on law enforcement, social services, medical and mental health professionals who may have insight into each domestic violence murder to dig deeper into what led up to the incident.
“The fatality review process works the best if we're able to look back in someone's history and look at their childhood, look at their education, look at their influences and the things that they've experienced. How did the two people come together? Did they create a family? Did they have domestic violence in their past?” Coffman said. “So we're putting together a great deal of information from law enforcement and the different social services, mental health, medical professions. All of those folks are putting their heads together in a confidential forum.”
If the legislation is approved, the statewide domestic violence fatality review board will present an annual report to the legislature about the trends its reviews uncover.
“It is a way for us to gather data, it's a way for us to propose solutions, and it's a way for us to prevent people from dying in Colorado as a result of domestic violence,” Coffman said. “If we have a statewide domestic violence fatality review board we can do a better job of figuring out what the red flags are, training law enforcement, and training social service professionals in their professional development to look for those things.”
Many other states across the country have already implemented formal state fatality review processes in cases of domestic violence.
Denver has had its own volunteer domestic violence fatality review committee for years. The attorney general said the goal is to expand the kind of work that group has been doing across the state.