ST. CLOUD -- Reducing domestic violence is a community wide effort and Stearns County has been one of the leaders in processing those cases.

Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall says the focus started in 2009 when they began noticing the jail filling up with offenders committing the same domestic violence crimes.

We had to have a different approach with these offenders who have not changed their behavior even after there was a prior intervention.

With the help of The Center for Court Intervention in New York, Stearns County created the Felony Domestic Violence Court.

Chelsa Beaver is an Assistant Stearns County Attorney. She says offenders go through the same hearings as in any other case, but with an emphasis on accountability.

Our domestic violence court participates have all those same hearings, but every week whether or not they have an on the record hearing they have to come talk to the judge. That's a time for the judge to check in with them and make sure they are doing what they need to be doing.

Kendall says with the consistent rate of domestic violence crimes throughout the county, two of their nine judges are assigned just for domestic violence cases.

She says one reason the program has been successful is the strong community partnerships they've built.

When we got everyone at the table at the beginning, like the experts told us to do, the buy in we got you just don't see in other communities. It's a whole group of people not just us.

A key result of the program has been the amount of victims willing to report domestic abuse as they know there is improved safety for the victims and their families.

October is domestic violence awareness month.


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