One of the biggest local stories of 2013 was the very troubling string of domestic violence homicides. Especially during the first half of the year, it seemed a new tragedy of that sort was hitting the news cycle just about every week.
But believe it or not, the number of domestic violence homicides in Minnesota last year, 37, wasn't unprecedented.
That number comes courtesy of the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women's Minnesota Femicide Report, which has been released each year since 1989.
The number of domestic violence homicides last year "is consistent with trends throughout the decades," MCBW spokesperson Becky Smith told us, though the methodology the group uses has changed over the years.
"Right now our criteria is pretty specific to 'intimate partner violence,' so year-to-year comparisons are like comparing apples and oranges," MCBW Program Manager Safia Lovett told us, adding that there were some years in the 1990s where the organization counted more than 37 domestic violence homicides.
Asked why she thinks the incidents received so much media coverage last year, Lovett cited two factors -- first, the majority of them happened in the metro area, whereas in most years the incidents end up being split between the metro and outstate; and secondly, a higher number than usual involved women who went missing.
"Four women went missing -- I don't think I've seen that number in any previous years," Lovett said. "But more people were paying attention, and these stories were amplified, which is a good thing."
"I think last year, people were a lot more invested in these homicides because so many were covered in the media," she continued.
The 2013 Minnesota Femicide report will be discussed at the state Capitol next Tuesday during a news conference a number of legislators are expected to attend.
According to MCBW Executive Director Liz Richards, the organization will push for two bills to be passed this legislative session. One would allow victims to be notified about where offenders will be released when they are freed from custody, and the other would make it easier for officers to arrest domestic violence suspects when they arrive at the scene where misdemeanor assaults allegedly occurred.