Cell phones given to victims of domestic violence

Posted: Friday, August 24, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Victims of domestic violence are receiving free cell phones and cell phone service through the Interior Alaska Center for Non-violent Living.

The program got a boost recently when Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. donated 35 older-model phones to the center, which had 15.

The program aims to provide back-up communications for victims of domestic violence. Police say victims are often prevented from reporting violence because their attackers commonly rip telephones from walls.

Having the additional phones will allow the center to let more domestic violence victims have phones and to keep them longer, perhaps for as much as a year or two.

''It's an extra tool -- added security,'' said Pearl Turney, a Fairbanks police officer. She said the cell phones could also come in handy in cases where a domestic violence victim is being stalked.

''It doesn't have to be an assault. It could be fear of an assault,'' she said.

The phones are programmed to dial 911 only. Alaska Communication Systems is proving cellular time at no charge.

Alyeska spokesman Curtis Thomas said the phones from the oil consortium came from employees of the radio department who had received newer model phones. The donated phones include both company and personal phones.

As word spread throughout Alyeska, Thomas said, employees in other departments began donating old cell phones. The phones are both analog and digital. Most were made by Motorola and Nokia.

''We thought we would put them to good use,'' Thomas said. ''We hope they make a difference.''

They may, according to Turney. The sooner police are contacted after an assault, the more evidence officers are able to gather.

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