Anoka County is implementing a plan of action to reduce domestic abuse. This “immediate risk assessment program” is aimed at providing quicker help to those involved in domestic abuse cases. The program is backed by a $40,000 federal grant to help pay for training and additional personnel. Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth already have similar programs.
Anoka has a staggering amount of domestic abuse cases. Last year, the county attorney’s office prosecuted 160 felony domestic assault cases. Additionally, 75% of the county’s last homicides were a direct result of domestic disputes.
The program aims to bring immediate physical aid to victims, and also hopes to bring cases to trial more expediently, because a victim is more likely to rescind testimony if their case is postponed for weeks or months.
On average, 1,500 people die from domestic violence per year in the U.S. 50 percent of these people had contact with police, but only 4 percent sought services. That is why this initiative favors referring victims of severe domestic abuse to services like the Alexandra House in Blaine.
“It’s better for the victim if they can empower themselves,” says Paul Young, head of the violent crime unit of the Anoka County attorney’s office. “We always operated under the model that putting offenders in jail provides the best safety to the victim. But studies show real long-term safety comes when the victims get services.”
Similar programs in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth have already been hugely successful.