Mayor Richard Howard

Malden Police Department's Domestic Violence Emergency Response System

The Domestic Violence Emergency Response System (DVERS) was implemented in December, 1995, by the Malden Police Department in an attempt to provide immediate access to victims of domestic violence in an emergency situation. The DVERS provides cellular telephones to Malden residents who have active restraining orders against their abusers or stalkers, and who do not have immediate access to telephones.

During the first four years of the Domestic Violence Unit's existence, the unit observed that many women who obtain restraining orders do not have phone service. During a domestic incident phones are often torn out of walls, or often women are unable to pay expensive phone bills. The 209A restraining order in Malden is enforceable only when violations are reported to the police. The Malden Police Department was concerned for victims who could not get to a phone to call for help.

The Malden Police, in conjunction with Services Against Family Violence, were initially given two cell phones by Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile Telephone, and the monthly fees were paid for by The Polaroid Foundation. The phones are programmed to dial the Malden Police Department emergency dispatch only. The phones are on loan to participants for thirty days, which may be extended if necessary.

Currently, the monthly fees are paid for by grants from Healthy Malden 2000 as well as from The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, grant. The Malden Police Department now has four phones available. The cell phones have been loaned out to fifteen women so far. In each instance, the phones have enhanced their safety when combined with other safety measures.

The benefits of the DVERS are threefold: 1) the phones increase victim safety if used properly; 2) they allow the police to enforce 209A laws and apprehend violators in a timely fashion; and 3) an indirect benefit is that the program lets residents of Malden know that the police are committed to enforcing domestic violence laws.

The Malden Police will shortly announce that Sentry Alarm System has provided the department with two home panic alarm systems for victims of domestic violence. The structure of this program will be similar to DVERS. These two programs are wonderful examples of ways in which private corporations and law enforcement agencies can work together to increase public safety.

CONTACT: Amy Prisco, Domestic Violence Liaison, Malden Police Department, 200 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148, Telephone - (617) 397-7171, Fax - (617) 397-0296.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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