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She and McAlister now speak publicly about the protocol, first developed in Maryland, and the importance of recognizing warning signs. They’ll hold a free public presentation from 6 to 9 p.m. March 18 at Park High School in Cottage Grove.
In that city and elsewhere in Washington County, officers call Tubman services, the 24-hour contact for the Lethality Assessment Protocol, right from the victim’s home.
“We’re hearing that officers are comfortable with the tool, they’re using it, and as a result, victims are being connected with Tubman and services,” said Sandy Hahn, Washington County’s deputy director of community corrections.
Meanwhile, St. Paul is beginning the third year of Blueprint for Safety. Championed by Choi, it’s the first comprehensive effort to link criminal justice agencies in a coherent intervention model. Now used throughout Ramsey County, it’s a prototype that can be used by any community. It involves asking more questions about the suspect’s level of anger and violence and moving more quickly to issue charges and arrest warrants.
“What we do is not just about processing the work that is in front of us,” Choi said, “but also to make sure that we are looking at domestic violence situations as homicide prevention.”
The new philosophy and multiagency approach have speeded up prosecutions of batterers who are gone before police arrive, Choi said. In the past, such cases had languished up to 45 days. Now those cases are charged more quickly.
“When we are responding to a domestic situation, we apply these new principles and practices,” he said. “But we never had a chance in the Trevino case, because there was never an interaction between this couple and law enforcement.”
‘Please reach out’
The dynamics of leaving an abusive relationship are complex, and victims fear making things worse by leaving, Cline said. “It’s very frightening for victims to try to reach out,” she said. “So much of their life has been taken out of their control that they’re often afraid that the situation is just going to escalate because the perpetrator will find out.”
Cline wants victims to know that when they call a battered women’s program, their information is kept confidential. Programs will work with victims as they’re planning to leave, when they leave and afterward.
She, Christiansen and others said anyone leaving an abusive person should use caution.
“Please reach out,” Cline said, urging not only victims but also those who care about them to call domestic violence advocates to set up a safety plan.
“There’s a whole community out there that wants to help them, that believes they do not deserve to live in fear, and that they have value in our community’s eyes.”
Joy Powell • 651-925-5038