Form Helps Minn. Police Assess High-Risk Domestic Abuse

Updated: 05/03/2013 3:56 PM By: Maricella Miranda

A form is helping several metro police screen domestic abuse incidents at the scene - to assess if a victim is at high risk of being killed.

If there is a high risk, police will connect victims with crisis support services at the Tubman organization. Then officers will fax the assessment form to Tubman and probation offices in the area, said Sgt. Randy McAlister of the Cottage Grove police.

The form is available here.

McAlister said he's spent the past two years training officers in Washington, Chisago, and Ramsey counties on using the assessment. He also presented the form to the Ramsey County Attorney's Office and the St. Paul City Attorney's Office.

"... Research has shown that domestic-related fatalities are preceded by red flags and warning behaviors," McAlister said. "If we can teach potential victims and their loved ones to recognize these, perhaps we can prevent homicides in the future."

The program also helps reduce barriers between the criminal justice system, he said. For instance, judges know about high-risk situations before reviewing domestic assault cases.

The judge then can decide to set more stringent custody release requirements, such as higher bail, a chemical abuse evaluation, home arrest, and other requirements.

In high-risk cases, police also will more frequently check on victims, McAlister said. Officers will review safety plans with them, act as liaisons for them, and conduct surveillance to ensure their safety.

"This program is vitally important, in my humble opinion," McAlister said. "Lots of things can be done outside the traditional law enforcement response to help victims more."