Cell phones given to victims

CENTRAL GLENDALE — Domestic violence victims Friday were thrown a support line of sorts with the donation of pre-paid cell phones, which officials said will help them during an emergency.

Verizon Wireless officials donated 20 pre-paid cell phones as part of its HopeLine program to the Glendale Police Foundation, which in turn will give the phones to YWCA of Glendale for its clients, who live at the nonprofit’s emergency domestic violence shelter.

The phone company also gave a $2,500 grant to the foundation, which will distribute the money to the Glendale Police Department for domestic violence programs.

Many victims of domestic violence get rid of their phones because they don’t want to be connected to the past, said Carol Ann Burton, YWCA of Glendale board president.

“This will give them something that when they are out, that they can dial,” she said.

As part of the program, Verizon recycled and refurbished old cell phones, and then used earnings from their resale to buy new phones with free minutes for victims.

Proceeds from the company’s HopeLine program also are donated to nonprofit organizations and local shelters for domestic violence prevention.

Since starting the program in 1995, the phone company has collected 6 million old phones and has given 76,000 phones to domestic violence victims, said Steve Zipperstein, vice president and general counsel for Verizon Wireless.

“The first responders here know full well how important these phones are,” he said. “What a lifeline they can be to victims during times of crisis, offering a link during emergencies to family, to friends, to law enforcement, to help victims find jobs, housing and other support that they need on the way to rebuilding their lives anew.”

The Police Department also received a HopeLine Law Enforcement Partnership Award, which was the first-ever honor given to a police agency in the western United States.

The department was recognized for its efforts in preventing domestic violence, with rates that have dropped every year since 2005, Zipperstein said.

Police Chief Ron DePompa attributed the declining rate in the city to victims who weren’t afraid to report the offense, and officers who make it a priority to answer abuse calls. The community also provides much-needed support, he added.

“I really believe that it’s that three-way partnership that’s worked well for us here in Glendale,” he said. “We are very proud of the fact that we continue to see incidents of domestic violence drop on an annual basis, and again that doesn’t happen by accident, but through the service of all the caring people that we have the privilege of working with in the city of Glendale.”

In domestic violence incidents, abusers will often tear out the phone cord from the wall, said Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, who as a private attorney volunteered to help victims of domestic violence.

“That just amplifies that sense of helplessness that the victim has, so the availability of these telephones is really going to make a vital difference in any changes and experience that allow these victims to . . . empower themselves to take control of their lives,” he said.

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