Published: February, 2010| Kris Arneson, Edited by Stephanie Avalon

Since nothing succeeds like success, the Minneapolis 5th Precinct Misdemeanor Domestic Assault Investigation Pilot Project is being extended city-wide this year. The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office (MCAO) collaborated in this evidence collection enhancement project, which began February 1, 2008 and continued through January 31, 2009.

A comparison chart (below) of the case resolution data for the comparison year and data obtained through the end of the 2nd Quarter of the Pilot show a 23% increase in the overall conviction rate for the 5th Precinct.

2007 Conviction and Dismissal Rates Chart

Resolution Type Domestic Team   Percent of Total
CWOP
Dismiss
Dismiss Other
PG Total
PG Charge
PG Other
4
62
1
80
35
45
2.7%
42.2%
0.7%
54.4%
23.8%
30.6%
Grand Total 147 100.0%

2008 Conviction and Dismissal Rates Chart

Resolution Type Domestic Team   Percent of Total
CWOP
Dismiss
Dismiss Other
PG Total
PG Charge
PG Other
0
44
0
141
63
78
0.0%
23.8%
0.0%
76.2%
34.1%
42.2%
Grand Total 183 100.0%

View more case collection charts.

All 5th Precinct Officers received training from MCAO on the dynamics of domestic abuse and on specific domestic abuse-related case investigation. As part of the new protocol, officers are being asked to take a Scales statement from defendants, help victims complete a statement, and complete other investigative tasks including photographing injuries and getting a signed medical release from the victim. Scales is the Minnesota Supreme Court case mandating law enforcement officers to attempt to record a Miranda interrogation whenever feasible. In addition to reading the suspects their Miranda rights on tape, in this DV project officers keep the squad camera rolling all the way to the jail in case suspects make any further statements or remarks.

Turning the camera on the suspect after Mirandizing seldom captures confessions, according to Battered Women’s Justice Project’s Managing Attorney, and former prosecutor, Sandi Murphy, but it routinely demonstrates belligerence, intoxication, threats, profanity and other characteristics that would potentially assist a jury in recognizing what the defendant was like the night in question. In addition, simple questions like “What happened here?” or “What can you tell me about…” help establish probable cause. Documenting his version locks the suspect into it and also helps the prosecutor know what to expect at trial.

As training was deemed essential to the pilot’s success, implementing the protocol citywide is proceeding on a precinct-by-precinct basis to schedule training prior to startup. Currently, it has begun in the 3rd Precinct. Training focuses on dynamics of domestic abuse, and the importance of evidence collection in enabling prosecution without reliance on a victim’s cooperation.

Victim Supplement and Medical Release Forms in four languages (English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali)

Summary of the Misdemeanor Domestic Abuse Incident Response Protocol

The idea for the Pilot came from Minneapolis Assistant City Attorney’s Kathy Rygh and Michelle Jacobson who approached Fifth Precinct Inspector Kris Arneson in February 2006 with their idea. Inspector Arneson developed the project guidelines and presented it to the Police Administration who agreed to do the Pilot in 2007, starting February 2008.

Arneson stressed the importance of the training provided by Assistant City Attorney Michelle Jacobson as well as the feedback Assistant City Attorney Gretchen Zettler provided on each case that went forward. The feedback alerted officers that attention was being paid, she said. Emails sent to the officers and their supervisors advised them of the outcome of the case, what was done well, and maybe not so well, and how it affected the case. Michelle Jacobson provided a quarterly report of the Pilot’s progress. Fifth Precinct Community Attorney, Lisa Godon, served as an on-site resource for officers with questions about the project. In addition, the pilot had a focus group consisting of supervisors, officers and the attorneys who discussed progress in the pilot and any issues from the officers. Modification of the victim supplement form was one result of officer’s feedback.

During the Pilot Project, the MCAO collected data on officer compliance rates with each part of the protocol. The MCAO also collected data on the evidence obtained in these cases and on victim contact with the MCAO following the initial police report. This data will be analyzed against case resolution data to determine the impact on case resolution. Initial analysis of the data collected shows mixed compliance with the Domestic Abuse Incident Response Protocol. Of particular note, compliance with the protocol was particularly high in these areas:

  • Mirandized interviews were requested in 78% of cases where defendants were arrested
  • Officers interviewed witnesses in 83% of the cases where officers had asked and a victim had indicated that witnesses were present during the incident
  • Officers noted asking if a victim had injuries in 97% of cases where a physical assault was alleged
  • Officers took photographs of injuries in 87% of cases where there were visible injuries.
Areas of the protocol where compliance was particularly low include:
  • Officers asked if firearms were present in the home in only 20% of cases.
  • Officers noted asking victim risk assessment questions in only 5% of cases. The victim risk assessment questions have now been added to the victim supplement.

The percentages in Appendix A where noted, are calculated only based on cases where specific types of evidence were available to be collected or documented or where parts of the protocol were applicable. Appendix B shows the percentage of cases in which each part of the protocol was complied with (or not) or in which evidence was available to be collected or documented.

View appendices

For more information, please contact:

Kris Arneson
p 612-673-5504
Kristine.Arneson@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Michelle Jacobson
p 612-673-5412
Michelle.Jacobson@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Kathy Rygh
p 612-673-2238
Kathy.Rygh@ci.minneapolis.mn.us