Muncy Police Chief receives ‘Unsung Hero’ Award
This year at the annual volunteer meeting and awards luncheon celebrated by the YWCA of Northcentral PA, Chief Richard Sutton of the Muncy Borough received the Wise Options Unsung Hero Award.
YWCA director, Diane Glenwright of Muncy, announced that Chief Sutton has given great support to the Wise Options program throughout the years. “Each year the ‘Unsung Hero’ award is given to one person within each program who demonstrates a superior commitment to our mission,” said Glenwright. Wise Options offers a safe haven and a place of support for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Along with Old Lycoming Township, Chief Sutton was also instrumental in launching the new Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) for the YWCA Wise Options program. This is a newly created partnership which connects domestic violence victims to local services which in turn, prevents murders caused by domestic violence. The program kicked off October 1 in observance of the nationwide proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Statistics reveal that domestic violence claimed the lives of over 1500 in the last decade here in Pennsylvania, and only 4 percent ever obtain help through a protective service.
A LAP trained officer, Chief Sutton said that the goal is to reduce and eliminate those statistics. According to the YWCA, accessing shelter services reduces the incidence and severity of re-assault by 60 to 70 percent compared to those who do not access shelters. The collaboration of law officers and domestic violence programs involves assessing the risks and connecting victims with local programs such as Wise Options. Some of these common factors or risks to take into consideration include the abuser’s use or threat of using a weapon, strangulation during an assault, stalking, threats of suicide by the abuser, constant jealousy and attempts to control the victim.
When responding to a call Sutton said that LAP-trained police officers use a brief evidence-based screening tool to identify risk factors. “We then connect victims at high risk to a local hotline to help create a safety plan and suggest available services,” he said. Lycoming County is one of 12 jurisdictions throughout Pennsylvania initiating the Lethality Assessment Program.
Chief Sutton also brought in to the area the documentary “Telling Amy’s Story”, which is an in-depth analysis of a domestic violence murder that took place in State College.