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City Plans Domestic Violence Program for Valley

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seeking additional resources to deal with the growing domestic violence problem, the Los Angeles City Council applied Wednesday for a $200,000 grant to establish the first San Fernando Valleywide program to provide crisis counselors on a 24-hour basis.

Officials said the Valley was chosen for the pilot program because police in the area have one of the city’s highest rates of domestic violence calls and have few programs to turn to.

So far this year, the Valley has had the highest number of domestic assault arrests in the city, with 2,588 arrests. It has also had the second-highest number of domestic violence calls, with 13,936.

“The Valley has a huge problem in this area,” said Tamara Maimon, a legislative analyst who helped prepare the grant application to the U.S. Department of Justice. “It was an obvious need to be filled.”

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Under the proposed program, 14 part-time and two full-time domestic violence counselors would be trained and put on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to meet with battered women and children at the hospital and provide them counseling and help in filing charges.

The Van Nuys police division has a similar program that operates three nights a week. In addition, representatives of several social service and law enforcement agencies have formed the San Fernando Valley Domestic Violence Task Force to better coordinate help to victims.

The proposed pilot program focuses on victims of domestic violence who require medical treatment. After police respond to a call and help transport the victim to a hospital, counselors are to be notified via cellular phone or beepers to meet with the victim, according to the grant application.

The counselors, who would work out of Haven Hills Domestic Violence Shelter in the West Valley, would then stay with the victim, allowing police to go back into the field to continue the investigation or respond to other calls.

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Maimon said the funding for the program could be issued by January or February and could be operating by June or July.

A city report said the Harbor and Mid-Wilshire areas are already served by state-funded domestic violence programs and a county-operated program is planned for East Los Angeles communities.

The council delayed a vote Tuesday on the grant application after Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents parts of South Los Angeles, questioned why the Valley and not other areas of the city were chosen for the grant.

By Wednesday, however, Ridley-Thomas said he had received the data showing how the Valley was selected. He also added that he plans to introduce a motion soon to request a grant to fund a domestic violence program in his district.

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