GAINESVILLE, GA — Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile and the Hall County Solicitor's Office Victim-Witness Program have joined together to loan victims of domestic violence wireless phones to use in reporting emergency situations.
"Victims of domestic violence are vulnerable to threatening situations just about anywhere -- in their cars, on the street and even in their own homes -- and they often don't have immediate access to traditional landline phones in such emergencies," said Jim Akerhielm, Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile vice president-Southeast region. "But, with wireless technology, we can give the assurance and the added security of knowing that help is only a cellular phone call away -- enabling them to go to work, move about more freely within their community and not worry about being without help."
Akerhielm was joined today by State Court Solicitor Jerry Rylee and Attorney General Thurbert Baker to announce the donation of cellular phones to the Victim-Witness Program. Hall County is the second community Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile's Southeast Region has loaned cellular phones to help in the prevention of domestic violence. After the success of a pilot project with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Violence Unit in Charlotte, NC, Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile established a permanent program in the Southeast and began steps to spread the program to other communities in the region.
The Hall County Victim-Witness Program will administer the program, including training domestic violence victims in the use of wireless phones, as well as monitor the use of phones. Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile has committed to donating the wireless phones and airtime.
Also playing a major role in this effort is the new Domestic Violence Unit of Hall County Solicitor's Office established in January as a cooperative effort with the Hall County Sheriff's Department. Staffed by 10 specially trained officers, this unit responds to domestic violence calls and gathers documentation to aid in prosecution.
In the first six months this year, the Domestic Violence Unit has increased the number of Solicitor's Office cases involving domestic violence, such as telephone harassment, battery, criminal trespass and stalking, to 456 cases from 396 for the same January-June time frame in 1996 -- a 15 percent increase.
"The Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile loaner phones are an enormous tool in providing more secure situations for our clients," said Rylee. "The most dangerous time for a domestic violence victim is when the abuser is out on bail after arrest. Even with temporary protective orders and bond conditions, the victim is at risk. It is so easy for abusers to disable regular telephones; these wireless phones provide both a portable and tamper-proof lifeline."
The donation of the three wireless phones is in addition to two phones donated earlier this year through the local Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile Communications Store. In January, the first phone was assigned to a domestic violence victim whose abuser was scheduled for release after a six-month jail sentence.
"We were certain, based on the abuser's history, that he would return to his abusive behavior and might even cut her phone lines as he had done previously," Rylee said. "Today, the victim and her children are able to sleep at night knowing help is only a phone call away."
"We were excited to hear how well the first two phones were working for Hall County, and are now glad to make this additional loan and welcome the Solicitor's Office as Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile's second Domestic Violence Initiative location in the Southeast," said Akerhielm.
Editor's Note: Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile is the largest wireless service provider on the East coast and the second largest in the United States. The company owns and operates the most extensive network in the east, covering 111,000 square miles, and the largest chain of wireless retail outlets offering a full range of wireless personal communications services, including voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile has 4.9 million customers and 6,500 employees in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. The company was formed in July, 1995 by combining the cellular operations of Bell Atlantic Mobile and NYNEX Mobile. For more information, visit our home page at www.banm.com .