The Saint Paul and Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project

SAFETY ALERT: Your abuser can monitor your use of your computer and the Internet. If you are in danger, please use a safer computer, call 911, the St. Paul & Ramsey County Intervention Project at 651-645-2824, or the Minnesota Domestic Violence Crisis Line at 1-866-223-1111 if you are in Minnesota. If you live outside of Minnesota call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

To better understand the steps of working with the criminal justice system in matters of domestic abuse, click on The St Paul Blueprint for Safety.

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Saint Paul Blueprint for Safety

What do the police do when they arrive in response to a 911 call?

If you are not in St. Paul, depending on the city or county law enforcement agency that responds, police actions may be different.

Police officers are dispatched to your location by 911. When the police arrive at the scene they look around the scene and pay attention to activity. Police try to determine if any weapons are present and if anyone needs the paramedics. Police also check for warrants for anyone at the scene and whether there are any Orders for Protection, Domestic Abuse No Contact Orders or Harassment Restraining Orders in effect.

The officers will interview both persons separately. The officers will ask you a number of questions including the name and number of someone who will always know how to reach you.

If you don’t speak English, the police can access an interpreter to help you communicate with them.

If you are concerned that the abuser will get your address and phone number, tell the officers. They can mark that information as confidential. Even if marked confidential, it’s possible that the abuser will gain access to this information.

If you participate in the Safe at Home program, tell the officer. Give the officer the P.O. Box address and ask that the officer mark it as non-public. If the police respond to your home address, ask them to still use the P.O. Box address in the police report and still mark your physical address as non-public. Let them know that you don’t want the abuser to get your physical address.

The officers will ask you to describe what happened. They will ask you about the history of violence and stalking you’ve experienced. The officers also will ask the following risk related questions:

Do you think he/she will seriously injure or kill you or your children? Why? Why not?

How frequently and seriously does he/she intimidate, threaten, or assault you? Is it changing? Getting worse? Getting better?

Describe the time you were most frightened or injured by him/her.

Does he/she mistreat animals?

The officer also will ask how long the suspect has lived in Minnesota.

These questions are asked so that the criminal system’s response can be tailored to your situation and focus on your safety and the potential risk presented by the abuser.

At the scene the officers will collect evidence. The officers may call a camera car or take photos themselves of any injuries or any damage in the home. The officers will interview witnesses. They may have you and/or the suspect sign a medical release form. If the suspect is arrested in a misdemeanor case, the officer may take a statement from the suspect at the jail or in the squad car. The suspect’s statements will be recorded.

If children are at the scene, officers check on their welfare. They check whether the children have been injured, sexually abused, neglected. The officers also may interview the children privately depending on the children’s ages and abilities.

Note: In unusual and extreme circumstances, if there is no adult who can be located to care for the children due to an arrest, the officers will notify Child Protection Services.

If both persons have used violence, the officers evaluate whether anyone was acting in self-defense. The officers will arrest the person who was not acting in self-defense. If neither person was acting in self-defense, the officer will arrest the predominant aggressor. The predominant aggressor is the person who in this incident and in past incidents has caused the most physical harm, fear and intimidation against the other person.

The officers will take everything they see and hear into account. They will evaluate statements from you, the abuser and any witnesses. They will look at the domestic abuse history. The officers will decide whether they have probable cause to make an arrest. Probable cause means there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed and the arrestee committed the crime. If probable cause is found by the officers, the officers will make an arrest.

If an arrest is made, the officers will take the arrested person to jail where the person will be booked and the officers will write a police report. The arrested person could stay in jail for 36-48 hours, depending on the crime charged. They could be released earlier or may stay in jail longer depending on what a judge decides.

If the suspect is no longer at the location when the police arrive, the term used is that the person is “Gone on Arrival” or GOA. The officers will ask the suspect’s name, date of birth and physical description. They also will ask where the suspect might have gone and how the suspect might have traveled there. The officers will let the 911 dispatcher know and write a GOA report. The dispatcher will broadcast a description of the person who is GOA to all squad cars. Officers may make an arrest up to 72 hours after the person is GOA. Sometimes warrants are issued for suspects that are GOA.

Officers will give you a Victim Information Card that has information about shelters, orders for protection, other community resources and a notice about domestic abuse victim’s rights. The officers also will notify the St. Paul and Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (SPIP) that an arrest happened. The SPIP advocate will contact you and offer you confidential, free advocacy services. You may also call SPIP at any time to speak with an advocate at 651-645-2824.

NEXT: What happens when someone is arrested and brought to jail? >>

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