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Police Offer Free Rides to Abuse Shelter : Domestic violence: LAPD aims to save lives by shuttling battered women and their children to a secret haven.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles police have taken yet another step to help victims of domestic violence by offering free rides to an emergency battered women’s shelter in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

“This kind of service will inevitably save lives,” said Lynn Moriarty, director of the Family Violence Project of Jewish Family Service in the Valley.

Starting this week, battered women can dial a 24-hour hot line offered by the Family Violence Project and speak with a counselor, who will determine whether the victim’s needs can be met at the project’s emergency shelter and whether space is available, Moriarty said.

If accepted, a victim and her children can be picked up at home by police and taken to the shelter or they can get a ride from either the North Hollywood or Van Nuys divisions.

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The police service will be offered at night and into the early morning--a key time frame when women are often abused.

The address of the shelter is not disclosed to friends or relatives of battered women because the home is meant to be a private sanctuary they can go to without fear their abusers will be able to find them, Moriarty said.

The involvement of police will allow women to get to the shelter without compromising its location.

“Until now, it’s been a real safety issue getting women to the shelter overnight,” Moriarty said.

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LAPD Detective Mitch Robins of the Van Nuys Division agreed.

“There has been a lot of difficulty in getting women to the shelters at late-night hours,” Robins said. “This new service is not going to be for every victim of domestic violence, but it will serve the most extreme cases.”

Police who respond to severe cases of domestic violence while on patrol may also call the hot line and check whether there is room available to drop off victims at the shelter or another facility, Moriarty said. Arrangements for free rides to the shelter can also be made for women who live outside the Van Nuys and North Hollywood divisions.

Moriarty said the shelter, which opened in August, is currently housing about six women and nearly a dozen children. It is staffed with counselors, and women and their children can stay up to 30 days.

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For information, call (818) 505-0900.


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