Mayor Ingrid B. Sheldon

Mayor's Task Force on Increasing Safety for Women

Established in 1995, the Mayor's Task on Increasing Safety for Women includes Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid B. Sheldon, the local and University Police Departments, University of Michigan's hospital emergency room, 3 local county-wide service providers specializing in services to victims of domestic and sexual assault, local businesses, community centers and clergy. The task force and the community have taken a united stand against violence toward women, using the slogan "There's NO Excuse for Violence Against Women." In 1996, Ann Arbor received a $20,000 Michigan Department of Public Health grant to fund a part-time program coordinator position.

Task Force members meet monthly to discuss issues concerning women's safety as well as participate in the three working major committees: Policy and Law Enforcement, Lighting and Physical Safety and Education/Prevention.

The Policy and Enforcement Committee is currently assessing training provided to systems and community members on domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, to identify current levels of information provided/areas requiring update, locate gaps/overlaps, and coordinate information and presentation. The possibility of specialized domestic violence units within the city attorney's office and the prosecutor's office is being explored. In March, 1997, the task force co-sponsored with SAFE House a "Beyond the Basics" seminar for local judicial officials, law enforcement, clergy and medical personnel on coordinated community responses to domestic violence. This committee also provides a regular forum for discussion of issues concerning coordination and cooperation between systems, and respectful, sensitive systems responses in the treatment of victims. Local law enforcement, the courts and the prosecutor's office work closely with the three specialty service providers to improve this area in an on-going process of dialogue and systems review/change. A community forum was held in 1995 to identify areas for improvement and a second community forum will be held in late 1997 or early in 1998.

The Lighting and Physical Safety Committee is currently working on the installation of emergency phones at local ATMs and participates in an annual "Night Out" safety walk with the Ann Arbor and University Department of Public Safety, city council members, task force members and other community members to help determine lighting and other safety needs in the city area. Photocell lights were distributed to the public in 1996 as part of a porch-light safety campaign and the committee is currently working with local landlords to install the remainder of these lights in rental areas needing more lighting.

The Education and Prevention Committee is currently working on several major projects. A video is being developed for cable television and for use in community presentations which advertises the community's stand against violence toward women, briefly educates the public on issues using survivor testimony and visually identifies and informs viewers of 24-hour hot-line and emergency numbers, agencies and systems providing assistance, along with information on how to contact and access services.

Ann Arbor has recently created a Speaker's Bureau which filmed a series of "Soap Box" spots airing on cable TV featuring community leaders speaking out against violence toward women, with information on where to access information/help in the community. The Speaker's Bureau also receives requests for presentations on issues of violence toward women, coordinating speakers from the three area specialty service providers and other task force members to provide the community with information on this topic.

The committee is working on a materials distribution campaign, which targets local businesses, community centers, health and human services providers and the public service sector. In April, posters and tent cards were placed in rest-rooms so that women may take information on where to call for information and help privately. Additional information will also be available to be handed out privately and workplace education/presentations will be offered through the speaker's bureau.

A painted bus (city buses used as advertising billboards here) is projected to be on the road by summer 1997, which bears the slogan "There's NO Excuse for Violence Against Women" and phone numbers to contact for information and help. Ann Arbor has already been using five message posters inside city buses to focus public attention on this issue and provide phone numbers to call for information and help.

An event is planned for summer 1997 to preview the video, unveil the bus and kick-off a city-wide "There's No Excuse for Violence Against Women" campaign.

CONTACT: Kent Baumkel, Program Coordinator, The Ann Arbor Mayor's Task Force on Increasing Safety for Women, City Administrator's Office, 100 N. Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, Telephone - (313) 997-1054, Fax - (313) 994-8297.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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