A coalition of law enforcement agencies in the Twin Cities were on the hunt Wednesday for about 100 domestic violence suspects as part of a national sweep. Twelve people were arrested.
The sweep operation was conducted as part of the 11th annual National Family Violence Apprehension Detail, a national effort that takes aim at family violence crimes including domestic assault and child abuse.
On Wednesday afternoon, six St. Paul officers explored an East Side apartment in search of a man named Jose who was suspected of trying to strangle someone.
The woman who lived in the home said in Spanish that she hadn't seen him in a long time, but Sgt. Jesse Mollner spotted his photo in a family picture on the wall.
"Sending out a big team like we did today … We send the message that domestic violence is important and we are going to take action," said Commander Mary Nash, head of the St. Paul police family and sexual violence unit.
This year the sweep was conducted by more than 60 personnel from Ramsey County Probation, the Ramsey County attorney's office, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, Immigration Customs Enforcement Fugitive Operations and police departments in Maplewood, New Brighton, Roseville, St. Paul and White Bear Lake.
Law enforcement was divided into six teams with half of them searching in St. Paul, two in suburban Ramsey County and one in Minneapolis.
The number of participating agencies doubled this year, said Randy Gustafson, spokesman for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office.
Last year, there were 60 arrest attempts and 12 arrests. Despite obtaining the same number of arrests with more law enforcement on the job, Gustafson said that this year's sweep was still a success.
"It is more than just numbers," Gustafson said. "Awareness to the issue of domestic violence was increased, and eighty offenders who we didn't catch today will soon be hearing from family members, friends and neighbors that law enforcement is actively looking to arrest them."
It's always a challenge to find people wanted on an arrest warrant especially if they are evading arrest and their whereabouts are unstable, Gustafson said.
Just putting people in jail isn't going to solve the problem of domestic violence, Nash said. Making people aware of domestic violence and connecting victims to partners like the St. Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, which offers a variety of services, is also important, she said.
"Working together we can make a bigger impact," she said.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, on average more than three women and one man are murdered by their partners in the United States each day.
In Minnesota, 18 people were killed in domestic violence related murders in 2012, and there have been 35 victims so far in 2013, some of which have been highly publicized, according to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women.
Earlier this month, Jeffery Trevino was convicted of killing his wife Kira Steger whose body was found in the Mississippi River after a months long search. Last week, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners adopted a proclamation to declare October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Last year, more than 200 agencies across the country participated in 22 states.
Out of the 3,560 attempts to arrest suspects, about 770 were actually arrested. Statistics from this year's sweep will be made public Friday.
For more information about local domestic violence resources, visit the Minnesota Coalition of Battered Women website at www.mcbw.org.