Major New Crimes Bill Hits DeSantis’ Desk

The family of murdered travel blogger Gabby Petito and bipartisan legislators worked together to get a bill enacted by the Florida legislature that would protect children and victims of domestic abuse.

After hearing from Gabby’s relatives, lawmakers in the state introduced a measure to create a lethality assessment procedure (LAP) that would aid in determining if a victim of domestic abuse is at imminent risk of death or severe injury. During a domestic abuse call, officers are required to ask prospective victims the 12 questions outlined in the LAP.

In August of 2021, while traveling cross-country in their van, Gabby Petito sadly died at the hands of her lover, Brian Laundrie. Victims of domestic abuse should be notified by law enforcement of the results of the evaluation and, if certain conditions are satisfied, should be sent to the nearest certified shelter. An officer is required to document in a written police record any domestic violence-related allegations made at the time of an arrest. The report must be filed with the law enforcement agency and forwarded to the officer’s supervisor in a manner that permits the collection of statistics on domestic violence instances.

In January, Joseph Petito advocated for new rules before the Florida Senate Committee on Criminal Justice. When a victim, like Gabby, fails to recognize the gravity of their situation, Petito told senators that the evaluation program can save lives. As Gabby and her fiance, Brian Laundrie, were driving through Moab in August 2021, police in Utah were alerted to a domestic violence incident.

The body cams of the responding cops showed an angry Gabby trying to downplay Brian’s role in the dispute, even though several witnesses said they saw him hit her. After Brian and Gabby told authorities that they got into a violent disagreement and that Gabby punched him, the authorities recommended that the couple spend the night apart. Two weeks later, Brian strangled Gabby to death. The Moab Police Department is facing legal action from Gabby’s parents, who claim that the department failed to adequately investigate the event because officers were unable to notice indicators of domestic abuse.

Finally, a measure was enacted by Florida lawmakers to aid victims of domestic abuse. The goal of the bill is to establish a lethality threat assessment procedure (LAP) that law enforcement may use to swiftly determine if a victim is at imminent risk of severe harm or death.