Following the lead of similar programs across the U.S., police officials in Northern Virginia’s Fairfax County announced Monday that they will begin offering free cellular phones to high-risk victims of domestic violence. The phones will be programmed to call the police and domestic violence hotlines only. Similar programs are in place in nearby Arlington County, Maryland’s Prince William and Montgomery counties.
Motorola has donated 40 phones to Fairfax’s “Call to Protect” campaign, and Cellular One has donated air time for the phones.
Officials believe this is a step in the right direction. “One of the ongoing fears for a domestic violence victim is the reoccurrence of violence once the police leave,” said Fairfax Police Chief J. Thomas Manger. “I believe the availability of these phones will ease their fear and protect them from becoming victims again.”
The limited number of phones will be distributed to those who are “willing to go through with a prosecution,” said police coordinator Kyanna Thompson.
In Alexandria, Virginia, the first woman to receive a phone used it on the very first day she received it, and got her stalker arrested.
“You’re continually afraid,” said a Fairfax resident and victim of domestic violence. “This has gone on for 12 years. A cellular phone gives you some sense of security, in that you know that somebody is just a phone call away if you ever need that help.”