PHILADELPHIA, PA — Hundreds of domestic violence victims throughout Philadelphia will be one step closer to safety due to a high-tech initiative announced today by the District Attorney's Office, the Philadelphia Police Department and Bell Atlantic Mobile. At a press conference today at City Hall in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Bell Atlantic Mobile donated 30 wireless phones and 15,000 minutes of service for use by the police department's special units and District Attorney's detectives. In addition, the company is donating 25 voice mail boxes to Women Against Abuse, the largest shelter for domestic violence victims in the city. The cellular phones will be used by police officers in every district of Philadelphia who concentrate on domestic violence crimes, by members of the police department's Special Victims Unit and by detectives in the District Attorney's office. The high-tech "safety tools" will offer victims a direct communication link to the police, and will hopefully help stop domestic violence crimes before they are committed. In addition, the District Attorney's office expects the phones to aid in the prosecution of abusers.
The 25 voice mail boxes will allow residents of Women Against Abuse a confidential way to receive messages from potential employers, friends and family, and to begin to rebuild their lives without the fear of having an abuser learn of their whereabouts. "As a corporate leader in the fight against domestic violence, we're trying to raise public awareness about this serious issue and offer solutions that will help victims break the cycle of domestic violence and rebuild their lives," said Bell Atlantic Mobile's Regional President, John Stratton. "It is our hope that the wireless phones, service and voicemail boxes donated today will make the fight against domestic violence just a little easier." In the greater Philadelphia area, Bell Atlantic Mobile will also make donations to other organizations this month, including:
Wilmington, DE On October 16, Bell Atlantic Mobile will sponsor the YWCA's first-ever Community Leadership Award, which focuses this year on violence with an emphasis on keeping children safe. In addition, the company will donate 15, 9-1-1 only wireless phones to the YWCA's Helping Hearts Program, 10 voice mail boxes to the Home Life Management Program and seven phones to be used by the YWCA staff.
New Jersey Through a government/private sector partnership, Bell Atlantic Mobile is joining forces with the New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey law enforcement community to assist victims of domestic violence and crime through its HopeLine and Wireless at Work programs. Bell Atlantic Mobile will donate 25, 9-1-1 only phones to the State Police for use it its new victim/witness rooms at police barracks. Bell Atlantic Mobile will also make voice mail boxes available to the New Jersey Coalition of Battered women, a state-wide non profit organization.
These donations are part of Bell Atlantic Mobile's corporate-wide "Wireless at Work…" community service program. Since 1995, this program has focused on assisting victims of domestic violence by utilizing the company's resources and technology in a variety of ways. These include the HopeLine® program, which provides free voice mail boxes to victims residing in shelters, and donations of pre-programmed wireless 9-1-1 phones to police departments and district attorneys' offices for women at risk. This year the company earmarked $100,000 to help victims by providing wireless technology solutions.
On a national level, Bell Atlantic Mobile became the first wireless carrier to introduce a toll and airtime-free link to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, allowing its customers to simply dial *HOPE from their wireless phones to reach the hotline. This feature ensures fast and easy access for Bell Atlantic Mobile customers in abusive situations to obtain advice at anytime when calling from anywhere in the company's Maine to Georgia footprint.
As part of its ongoing relationship with the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Bell Atlantic Mobile will also provide customers at its 200 Communications Stores, as well as its 7,000 employees, awareness cards featuring tips on how women can protect themselves from an abuser. To assist survivors of domestic violence in Vermont, Bell Atlantic Mobile today announced the donation of 44 cellular phones and 14 voice mail boxes to 11 Vermont organizations working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The donation is part of the company's "Wireless at Work…" effort to arm victims of domestic violence with powerful, state-of-the-art wireless technology that provides a crucial lifeline to the police at the touch of a button.
Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 112,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 5.7 million customers and 7,000 employees from Maine to Georgia and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. Bell Atlantic Mobile's parent is one of the world's largest wireless communications companies, with domestic operations in 25 states and international investments in Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim. For more information on Bell Atlantic global operations visit: www.bellatlantic.com/worldwide.