Senator seeks to create domestic abuse review team in Nebraska

Team would work to prevent deaths from domestic violence

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Nebraska averages around 14 deaths due to domestic abuse every year.

One state senator took a step on Friday to try to lower that number.

Sen. Tom Brandt hopes to form a domestic abuse review team to see what more can be done to prevent such deaths.

Family members who have had loved ones killed in this horrible way spoke out.

“My mom was shot to death in her own home by a person she worked so hard to protect herself from,” Andie Koch said. “Because of these real-life experiences, I strongly believe Nebraska needs more laws surrounding domestic violence and protection orders.”

Koch lived a nightmare as she watched her mom deal with domestic violence, and ultimately lose her life to it.

She and others shared their stories to help others.

“Doing what we are doing right now is I think what our mom would want us to do: to help save other women from domestic assault relationships or even murders,” Koch said. “It means a lot to a lot of families, I think.”

Chad Christiansen said, “For me and my family, it’s just the ability to know that my sister’s death isn’t in vain and that we are trying to fix a system that’s broken and that failed her, so that it doesn’t fail future families.”

The domestic abuse review team would evaluate domestic abuse cases to see where law enforcement, the government or nonprofits could step in and do more to prevent deaths.

“Anytime there is a homicide that’s related to domestic violence, there are always questions in communities about how did this happen, why does this happen, how do we prevent it from happening again?” said Christon Mactaggart, executive director of the Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. “The opinions about that are always different. We hope that LB 1009 will actually create a process to prevent future homicides.”

The bill would also give smaller communities more help to fight this problem.

“Three of my four counties, the sheriff is the law enforcement for the entire county, and they are stretched very thin,” Brandt said. “Anything that we can do to enhance their ability to stop domestic violence and stop domestic violence from escalating to death, we are more than willing to look at.”

Nebraska is one of only nine states that do not have something like this already in place. The other 41 states are seeing success with their programs.

“Oftentimes, the victim of the domestic violence has a protection order, or a PO, out there, and it’s a piece of paper. A piece of paper often doesn’t stop someone from walking through the piece of paper and doing some serious harm to the victim,” Brandt said. “Can we as a state do some things to calm things down and keep people apart until calmer heads prevail? That is what the intent of this bill is.”

So far, there has been no public opposition to this bill. It is supported by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, and citizens of the Cherokee Nation explained how it could help so many Native Americans from going missing or experiencing domestic violence.

There is a possibility that Sen. Wendy DeBoer will collaborate with Brandt on a bill she has already made a priority to hopefully fast-track this and get it to the floor.

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