Follow US:

Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Protecting domestic violence victims through radical intervention

Difficulty: 0

[Reporter: Katie Nicholson]

So, Michael how many domestic calls do you usually get in a shift?

I'd say about four to five a shift

and probably one to two are probably an arrestable domestic assault.

We're like a few blocks out.

But we'll still wait for backup.

Domestics always dangerous you don't know what you're walking into.

[Reporter] It's 6:28 p.m.

We're riding shotgun with officer Michael Shead in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

It sounds physical, no mention of weapons.

[Reporter] This is the birthplace of the "Blueprint for Safety."

[Officer Shead] Ready?

[Reporter] An innovative domestic violence program so effective that since it started ten years ago

there's only been one homicide involving a case on the program's radar.

[Reporter] Shead does his part to de-escalate the situation and separates the couple.

His partner Jessica Stiffarm stays with the victim.

Running through a special set of questions she's been trained to ask domestic violence victims.

[Officer Stiffarm] How frequently and seriously does he intimidate, threaten, or assault you?

Well, we need to make sure you're safe, right?

And we have to understand what went on, why we were called today.

Understand why you have that much blood in your ear.

If I cant contact you, who is someone who will always know where you are at no matter what?

[Officer Shead] It doesn't seem like the victim in this is too cooperative.

She says she doesn't want him to go to jail.

But we have enough evidence as far as -- because she's got a really bad bloody ear.

A lot of the roommates are saying that it sounded like she was screaming

saying she wanted to get out for help and whatnot.

So with all the circumstances and the independent witnesses that we got

we have enough to take him to jail even without her statement

if she doesn't do anything.

[Reporter] Here, if police have enough evidence of an assault

they can arrest a domestic violence suspect even if the victim isn't cooperative.

[Officer Stiffarm] Leaving there even though she didn't elaborate on what happened

just the fact that she knows now that regardless of her not giving us all the details at the end of the day

you know, I provided my business card and I said I'm on till two o'clock so if you change your mind

and you want to talk about it, call.

[Reporter] Barely an hour has passed since the officers responded to the call.

Already three officers are writing reports.

[Officer Shead] The original call came in saying a friend was fighting with her boyfriend.

He said he believed the female was in trouble and was being physically assaulted.

[Reporter] And making crucial calls to the domestic violence unit

to let them know someone else needs their help.

[Officer Shead] Just want to notify you guys of a domestic assault incident.

So we dont know the extent, like, she got a busted eardrum or anything like that so we just take pictures.

The victim refused medical help

and the officers aren't sure whether or not her eardrum is ruptured in the attack.

To be safe, they decide to go with a maximum charge. A felony assault.

He won't be going home tonight.

[Prosecutor] It's a pretty fresh assault.

These are her own photographs.

[Reporter] The very first thing the next morning, we check in with Sergeant Jim Nash

as he briefs city prosecutor Tara Patet on the overnight domestic assaults.

[Patet] I'll call his probation officer and -- because I am gonna charge this one.

[Reporter] If there's enough evidence, suspects are charged within 36 to 48 hours.

And at that time, judges routinely issue them no contact orders to stay away from the victim.

[Patet] All of us are really working collectively

and letting each other know what we need in order to do our role more effectively.

And that's had a really big impact on the outcomes of our cases.

The research tells us that it's not the severity of the punishment

that has the most impact on perpetrators of domestic violence

but the sureness and swiftness of the consequences.

And that's really what we're striving for, is to get these people off the street

and keep victims and their children and the community safe.

[Reporter] While Patet and Nash work their way through the morning's cases, we head out with another team

that's been deployed to follow up with all of last night's domestic violence victims.

[Woman 1] You go through what happened with this one?

[Woman 2] Yes, took phone. That's probably why we haven't been able to get a hold of her.

[Woman 1] Yup. And strangulation.

[Reporter] Sergeant Michele Giampolo and a victims advocate with St. Paul Intervention

have to visit eight homes today.

[Sergeant Giampolo] A lot of them don't know I'm a police officer because I don't dress in uniform

And they like that also because they don't want people knowing

that the police are coming in their house yet again.

They're thankful because sometimes they don't have a cell phone.

Either the suspect took it or they broke it, so they don't have a way of contacting the police.

So me going out there provides them a voice to contact and give their side of the story.

[Reporter] How do you know that the work you're doing here today makes a difference in a case?

[Sergeant Giampolo] Just by victim testimonies and knowing that they can get a charge on an abuser

or maybe get an order for protection or get a shelter

or any type of resources that St. Paul Intervention provides.

I think it helps. It can it can change their lives.

[Reporter] Police and advocates were always so collaborative.

Shelley Johnson Cline is the matriarch of the St. Paul Intervention Project

which advocates for victims and connects them to resources.

She remembers chillier relations with police.

[Cline] They would turn their chairs and have their backs to us a long time ago.

The police used to call us the St. Paul Interference Project, not the St. Paul Intervention.

Now we have each other's backs. Now we work side by side.

We may not always agree but we will always come back to the table

and we will always work together for what's best for victims.

[Reporter] And perhaps no one knows how powerful that alliance has been better than Becky.

Seven years ago, her ex-husband became increasingly dangerous

after she finally left him.

[Becky] He started to make threats in the courthouse where we -- how -- we were forced to meet.

He would -- he'd say things like, you know, I'm gonna end you.

You know, this... you're not gonna survive this. I'm not gonna allow you to survive.

[Reporter] At the time, police drove by her home to let her know they were there

and kept tabs on her ex's movements, and so did the victim's advocates.

[Becky] He had told his brother-in-law that he wanted to

drive to my place, either my home or my work.

and shoot me, and kill me.

[Reporter] Police finally had enough to arrest him.

He was picked up with blueprints to her home, a gun, and multiple rounds of ammunition.

[Becky] I just was surviving and hoping to live long enough for him to be sentenced

and then we would have like a reprieve, a break from the fear.

The nice thing about his sentence, even though it was reduced

It got my -- all my children through high school so they didn't have to worry about attending school

And -- is their dad gonna come and murder us, you know? Small mercies, you know.

[Reporter] Through the whole two-year ordeal, Becky knew she wasn't alone.

[Becky] I -- I was supported. There was somebody at my elbow every step of the way.

[Officer] 342 is out on a CSC. They have the suspect in custody.

Violation of a no contact order. Looks like felony level.

[Reporter] It didn't take much. A little teamwork, one singular mission.

A few small changes to make such a big difference.

Back at the station, the prosecution team decides the victims wounds proved serious enough

to make a felony charge stick.

He gets a lesser charge.

48 hours later, he makes bail.

But now, he's in the system and on the Blueprint team's radar.

And if he does it again, he could face serious prison time.

Katie Nicholson, CBC News. Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Description of Protecting domestic violence victims through radical intervention