- Associated Press - Thursday, December 22, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Authorities in Maplewood and White Bear Lake say they’ve seen more convictions and trials and fewer downgraded charges two years into a pilot project that aggressively prosecutes domestic violence offenders.

Those patterns won’t change anytime soon because both suburbs allocated more funds to maintain their enhanced approach to such cases, requiring more thorough investigation, intense witness care and a willingness to go to court, officials told the Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/2igESaa ).

Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell said law enforcement should spend more time on these cases because doing so can prevent homicide and protect families’ safety.

After the Ramsey County Joint Domestic Abuse Prosecution Enhancement Project launched in 2015 prosecutor Anna Christie was stationed in Maplewood’s police headquarters, where she trained officers how to collect more evidence, coached city prosecutors on legal strategy and tried cases.

Maplewood plans to keep an attorney stationed in the police department into the future, because Christie’s proximity to the officers was “extremely helpful,” said Schnell said.

“What we found was having (an attorney) there made a big difference in terms of involvement with the officers,” he said. “She was able to address and tweak approaches and help problem solve on some of the cases as they progress.”

White Bear Lake has budgeted an extra $10,000 to cover the effort, and Maplewood is adding $60,000 to its budget.

White Bear Lake Mayor Jo Emerson said the issue is very important and that people must know the city takes a hard stance on it.

At the end of the program’s first year, 64 percent of White Bear Lake cases were convicted under domestic violence statutes, an increase from less than 40 percent.

Domestic assault prosecution outcomes in 2015 improved throughout the county and weren’t limited to Maplewood and White Bear Lake.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com


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