Wednesday, September 20, 2023

US Justice Systems Much In The News: #1 Lethality Assessment Protocol

Posted by Peter Quennell

Maryland State training video, similar to many

1. Context

Too many US justice systems are locked in stone because of for example this:

There are 17,985 police agencies in the United States which include municipal police departments, county sheriff’s offices, state troopers,and federal law enforcement agencies.

Compare that to for example Italy where the forces are essentially two: the polizia and the carabinieri.

Plus US laws are often badly written. Plus most judges and prosecutors are elected or politically appointed, and so tend toward a hard line. Plus forced plea-bargains are endemic. Plus for-profit prisons lobby to keep the prisoner numbers enormous. 

And there are all those guns of course. Right now police recruitment is at a crisis point in many small towns which can only afford to pay peanuts - in the Gabby Petito murder case local cops were making an average of below $50,000.

Compare that with the median family income of the US: $74,580. In part this is because most Americans don’t much like or trust their cops and resent paying so much for them. (Generally inferior US education is also essentially locally funded on a shoestring.)

2. Lawsuit

The family of Gabby Petito are suing the Moab Utah police in part for not implementing a key system now saving many lives elsewhere. The state-level Lethality Assessment Protocols as described for Maryland above.

According to the family’s attorney, Moab City Police did not use a Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP) when they spoke with Petito and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, during a traffic stop in August 2021.

The attorney said Moab police had agreed to implement the LAP in 2018, but that “Moab was not doing anything to employ the LAP at the time … Moab responded in Gabby’s case.”

The subject of a Lethality Assessment Protocol is the basis for [new state-level law] S.B.117 [for all forces].  The bill requires[all] Utah law enforcement agencies to ask a series of questions during a domestic violence call. The questions help determine whether the victim is at risk of lethal violence.

At Moab, Gabby was never asked those questions and a day or two later was murdered.

In fact Moab police has a domestic violence advisor on the force. There was/is a strong rule that she MUST be brought in. She would have asked those questions.

But the cops at the traffic stop who misread the situation ignored this.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 09/20/23 at 05:15 PM in Hoaxes Sollecito etc


This article on the recruiting crisis from a police point of view is excellent but only so far as it goes.

But it turns a blind eye to (1) the extreme and quality-hampering atomization of police forces and the heavy cost to local taxpayers, (2) political demonization from the hard right, even though most police are themselves right-wing, and (3) a near-epidemic of police killings, sometimes with extreme cruelty as in the Rodney King suffocation case.

The Moab police bungle leading to her death in the Petito case is only one of many recent confidence-reducers.

In Seattle, this incident just happened - the victim was almost a clone of Meredith:

Posted by Peter Quennell on 09/22/23 at 09:21 AM | #

Italy still remains perhaps the best model in the world of police, courts and prison systems that work.

That is despite some mafia and politician interference. FBI who work with Italy know this.

SO DO ITALIANS. Though they could always use some tuning, these institutions remain among Italy’s must trusted and popular. Some of the reasons why:

1. Just two main police forces, both nationally funded, though as there is not much crime the funding is still way below US levels.

2. Both forces well-equipped, well-housed (some beautiful buildings like the courthouse in Florence), and very well-trained.

3. Almost all posts throughout are career-path, there are very few political appointees.

4. If they want to, staff can be moved from place to place all over Italy, unlike in the US where most staff careers are grindingly static.

5. Long investigations, fine laboratories, magistrates overseeing, and judges explaining at length “why this verdict”.

6. And appeals at two levels for many convictions being automatic.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 09/22/23 at 09:51 AM | #
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