Law Enforcement Cannot Require the Disclosure of a Real Address
Minnesota law requires all public and private entities to accept someone’s assigned Safe at Home address. This includes law enforcement. A participant cannot be required to disclose her or his real address to law enforcement. This prohibition is restricted to a participant’s address. A Safe at Home participant must disclose their name, date of birth, or any other information to law enforcement if it is required. The Safe at Home laws apply to a person’s address only.
Even if law enforcement knows the real address of a Safe at Home participant, they must use the participant’s Safe at Home address in all paperwork and reports. If the narrative in a report or any other factors indirectly indicate both a participant’s real address and their identity, steps should be taken to separate the two pieces of information so that the confidentiality of the participant’s location is not compromised.
Notice to Government Entity
In some instances, a Safe at Home participant may have concerns about the sensitive information a law enforcement agency has about them and will provide the agency with a Notice to Government Entity which they obtained from the Safe at Home office. Receipt of this notice restricts or prohibits the law enforcement agency from sharing location data about the program participant without their written consent and subjects the law enforcement agency to the requirements of Minnesota Statutes, section 13.045.
Orders for Protection
Most Safe at Home participants do not need an Order for Protection (OFP) because their location is unknown to the person whom they fear. However, if a participant does have an OFP, the order will typically indicate their Safe at Home address. If a participant needs emergency assistance because their abuser is nearby, the participant will disclose their location to law enforcement when requesting assistance.
Contacting a Safe at Home Participant
When someone joins Safe at Home it is not impossible to contact them. It is only difficult to physically locate them. After someone enrolls in Safe at Home, it's their real address that remains a secret (and possibly their work or school address). Their Safe at Home address, in essence, becomes their public address. It should be on their driver's license and it will be the address that is listed in any current public or private record that bears their personal information. Therefore, a person can always be contacted or legally served through their Safe at Home address.
Law Enforcement Emergencies
If the real address of a participant is required because law enforcement needs to arrest a Safe at Home participant, the party seeking the information needs to obtain a court order for the Safe at Home office to disclose the participant's address or, if it is an emergency situation the law enforcement agency can make a data disclosure request through the Duty Officer at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Safe at Home staff are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to such a request if the need arises.
911 calls from a Safe at Home participant will display the same information as a 911 call from someone not in Safe at Home.
Verifying Program Participation
Safe at Home participants are encouraged to tell law enforcement professionals with whom they come in contact that they are enrolled in Safe at Home. They cannot be required to explain why they are enrolled in Safe at Home.
All Safe at Home participants are issued a Safe at Home participation card-even minors. Although they are not required to carry it with them at all times, most participants carry the card with them in their wallet or purse. The card indicates the participant's legal name, their date of birth, their Safe at Home address, the expiration date of the program participation, the law requiring the acceptance of their Safe at Home address, as well as the Safe at Home office telephone number. Presentation of a Safe at Home card creates a rebuttable presumption that enrollment is valid.
Most Safe at Home participants will have their Safe at Home address on their Minnesota driver's license or state ID card. If a participant has their Safe at Home address on that card, there will be no record of the participant's real address in DVS records.
If there is uncertainty that someone is really a Safe at Home participant, verification can be made by calling the Safe at Home office at 651-201-1399 and giving the potential participant’s name and Safe at Home lot number, or name and date of birth. The Safe at Home office can confirm or deny program participation of the person in question.
Law Enforcement Enrolling in Safe at Home
Although most common, domestic violence is the not the only reason people enroll in Safe at Home. People enroll in Safe at Home for many different reasons, including law enforcement professionals who have safety concerns. If someone fears for their personal safety-even if it's for professional reasons, they can join Safe at Home as long as they meet the other eligibility requirements.