Domestic violence conviction rate increases 50 percent in Minneapolis

A new way of responding to and prosecuting domestic violence cases in Minneapolis has led to a 50 percent increase in the misdemeanor domestic violence conviction rate in the city between 2005 and 2010.

The increase in conviction rates and improved response are due in significant part to the “Minneapolis Model” – a collaborative effort between the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office, the Minneapolis Police Department, the Domestic Abuse Project, Casa de Esperanza and Asian Women United of Minnesota that launched in 2008. Part of this effort involved a new investigative protocol by the City Attorney’s Office and the Police Department to gather more and better evidence when officers are responding to domestic violence calls. With the assistance of grant funds, the City has also developed a domestic abuse repeat offender initiative, with a pilot program at Little Earth of United Tribes, and provided additional police enforcement of Domestic Abuse No Contact Orders, also improving the City’s response to domestic violence.

In January 2008, the City Attorney’s Office and the Police Department implemented a pilot program for police officers responding to domestic violence cases in the 5th Precinct. Conviction rates in the 5th Precinct increased from 54.4 percent to 77.1 percent after the implementation of the new protocol, and the total number of convictions went up 76 percent, from 80 to 141. Following the success in the 5th Precinct, the City Attorney’s Office and the Police Department expanded the program to the four other precincts in the city over the next two years and saw an increase in conviction rate in each precinct as the protocol was rolled out.

Precinct Before Protocol After Protocol
5th Precinct 54.4 percent 77.1 percent
3rd Precinct 65.8 percent 73.9 percent
4th Precinct 58.1 percent 71.5 percent
2nd Precinct 71.5 percent 84.7 percent
1st Precinct 70.8 percent 78.1 percent

The new investigation protocol trained officers on the dynamics of domestic abuse and trained them on investigation techniques specific to domestic abuse cases. As part of the protocol to better document incidents earlier in the process, officers were asked to take statements from defendants, ask victims to sign a medical waiver, and complete other preliminary investigative tasks in more detail such as ask if there are firearms in the home, take photographs, collect any physical evidence, and question witnesses regarding the incident. The City Attorney’s Office and Police Department also tracked the number of domestic violence related police reports in each precinct following the roll out of the protocol, and in all but one precinct saw a decrease in the number of police calls.

Now that the protocol has been rolled out to all precincts within Minneapolis, the data is being analyzed to illustrate trends and evidence available in misdemeanor cases to provide a better picture of what a “typical” misdemeanor domestic violence case is in Minneapolis. The City Attorney’s Office hopes that this further analysis will help them as they continue to improve their approach to domestic violence cases.

Published Oct 26, 2011