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New report finds MPD fails victims of domestic violence

(Courtesy of Global Rights for Women via Hennepin County Attorney's Dashboard)

Global Rights for Women, a Twin Cities nonprofit, released a report this week examining how the Minneapolis Police Department responds to domestic violence calls. Executive Director Cheryl Thomas says the report outlines a variety of ways that MPD fails to adequately respond to, enforce, or even report such calls.

“One woman in the report talks about calling [the police] 100 times, begging for a response to crimes committed against her, whether it was a violation of an order for protection or trying to get some response, [saying] ‘find him, find him, he’s going to hurt me. He’s going to hurt my children again,’ and not getting that response,” Global Rights for Women Executive Director Cheryl Thomas said.

According to the report, MPD does not seek to find suspects in domestic violence calls if the suspect is not on the premises. Nor does the MPD follow up on calls, forcing victims to contact the police repeatedly in order to get the results of their investigations. The report included testimony from victims stating that the MPD made no effort to track down the abuser, failed to communicate with other jurisdictions or precincts when domestic violence calls were made, and failed to interview suspects when responding to domestic violence calls.

“When abusers are gone on arrival, and then police don’t follow up on them, that sends a message to an abuser that all you have to do is leave the scene and you will not be held accountable for a violent crime,” Thomas said.

As well as outlining a pattern of “dismissive behavior,” the report also states that short staffing at MPD has made domestic violence even less of a priority.

While the report lists a litany of issues regarding the MPD’s response to domestic violence, it also provides recommendations to protect victims of abuse. Those include:

  • If the officer present finds reasonable cause for an arrest even though the suspect is not present, the officer should search for the suspect.

  • Officer’s should report the suspect's description, including clothing, distinctive markings and tattoos, name, date of birth, and location they might have gone.

  • Officers should provide victims of abuse with information on restraining orders, protection orders and advocacy groups, and provide transport to a safe location or medical services.

Domestic Abuse Project Executive Director Amirthini Keefe said that the most important change the MPD can make is to hold its officers accountable.

“There’s all of these policies in place already that have been created, that are already established within policing systems. They’re just not being followed,” Keefe said. “So when it comes to radical change, part of it is the system needs to be cleaned out.”

Keefe says that if police were to follow those policies in place, domestic violence victims would be able to find solace and even reparations. She says that MPD leadership must lead by example to hold officers accountable for failing to follow department guidelines.

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