Richtsmeier honored by 360 Communities
At the beginning of last week's Domestic Abuse Awareness Luncheon, 360 Communities president Sal Mondelli made a wish that the 28th luncheon would be the last. Sadly, his wish will likely go unfulfilled.
Hundreds gathered Feb. 15 for the luncheon held at Bracketts Crossing. In the audience was a Rosemount delegation supporting Rosemount Police officer Beth Richtsmeier for receiving one of four 2012 Community Caring Awards.
For her part, Richtsmeier is trying to help realize Mondelli's dream that someday domestic violence will be a thing of the past. As Rosemount's community resources officer, Richtsmeier is an advocate for domestic violence victims. She initiated the Domestic Abuse Response Team in Rosemount 12 years ago.
Richtsmeier said she checks in with victims within one to three days after an incident and makes sure they know about the resources available to them, including those offered by 360 Communities. She takes pictures of bruises or damage caused by the incident and will help victims create a safety plan.
Richtsmeier, who also works in the schools, said she also tries to build relationships with children and teach them that violence is not a good option. She said when children witness violence in their homes, they learn the behavior.
"We try to break the cycle," said Richtsmeier.
Typically, Richtsmeier said, the Rosemount Police Department responds to at least one case of domestic violence a week. She added that anyone can be affected by domestic violence.
Richtsmeier started her career as a probation officer in Anoka County. During that time she couldn't understand why domestic abuse victims didn't attain orders for protection more readily, so she asked a recent victim. The woman explained that it was a scary process and that the courthouse staff treated her poorly.
Richtsmeier went down to the courthouse and attempted to get an order for protection to see what the process was like. The experience was awful. Things moved slowly, and the people she dealt with made Richtsmeier feel guilty for even asking.
"I have always kept that," said Richtsmeier.
That experience led Richtsmeier to become a community legal advocate for domestic violence victims. After four years in that job, Richtsmeier decided to fulfill her dream to become a police officer.
As a member of the Rosemount Police Department, Richtsmeier has worked to make sure the department has adequate ways to serve domestic abuse victims. Because Rosemount had no such program at the time, Richtsmeier received training through the Burnsville Police Department and then started a response program. At the time, current Rosemount Police Chief Eric Werner led the Burnsville DART team as a sergeant.
"It's kind of come full circle," said Richtsmeier.
360 Communities Rosemount Family Resource Center volunteer coordinator Shira Rabinowicz said Richtsmeier has gone above and beyond the call of her job. Rabinowicz said Richtsmeier's work has helped women and children throughout the community.
"The programs she has created are really how you create healthy communities," said Rabinowicz.
Richtsmeier felt honored to receive the award but said she doesn't do her work for accolades. For many years Richtsmeier has been a one-woman show, but that will change as the department looks to add interested officers to their Domestic Abuse Response Team.