The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 11, 2012

Blue Earth County launching domestic violence Blue Print for Safety plan

MANKATO — After spending 18 months scrutinizing every aspect of Blue Earth County’s judicial system and how it deals with the perpetrators and victims of domestic violence, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, probation officers, court staff and judges are moving forward with a Blue Print for Safety plan.

The plan, which is based on a program implemented in St. Paul a few years ago, aims to reduce domestic violence by setting rules for dealing with suspects and victims while creating lines of communication between all the judicial agencies involved.

 Everyone from Eagle Lake Police Chief Phil Wills to future 5th Judicial District Chief Judge Bradley Walker has spent hours identifying, improving and, sometimes, completely changing procedures to protect victims as much as possible.

A $121,000 grant to create a Blue Print for Safety plan for Blue Earth County was requested after a string of deadly domestic violence incidents with Blue Earth County connections. It was issued to CADA, a local women’s shelter, and administered by Bob Sutter, a former CADA board member.

It’s being rolled out this week during a three-day training conference at the Verizon Wireless Center. The grant money is gone and the plan is in place, but the work isn’t over.

“We’ve definitely made some progress, but it’s not a completed project,” Sutter said. “We have the agencies working together and establishing some of those relationships that should improve communications, but it’s going to have to be revisited periodically to make sure we have a common goal.”

With help from Praxis International, a research and training organization that provided the domestic violence reform framework for Blue Earth County, those involved created a 164-page plan. The Mankato Department of Public Safety, Minnesota State University’s Security Department and the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department have each created protocols for how to deal with domestic violence. Smaller county police departments, such as Eagle Lake, are included in the Sheriff’s Department plan.

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