About half of all domestic violence homicides in Minnesota last year involved firearms. Law enforcement officials and victims advocates are calling for more prevention and better response to the problem of domestic violence.
A new report released Tuesday by the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women found at least 18 people, including one man, lost their lives to domestic violence last year in Minnesota. The number of domestic abuse deaths has dropped over the last three years, but advocates and law enforcement say more needs to be done to help victims and perpetrators and prevent abuse.
Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo said the county has lowered its rate of domestic violence homicides through a coordinated intervention program. The program targets the most lethal abusers and connects victims with assistance.
From the time someone, the victim, calls 911, all the way to holding an offender accountable and making sure that women have a voice, they have a voice, they have an advocate," Palumbo said.
St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said his department trains its officers to spot signs of lethal domestic abuse.
"If domestic violence is left unchecked, it does result in homicides so we are attempting, through this lethality assessment protocol that police officers use to try and determine which ones are the most serious, which ones are the most likely to result in a fatality," Smith said. "Those are the ones that we target and get them into the program."
The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women found more than half of domestic violence homicides last year involved firearms.