AMANDA CHAPMAN, LCSW
JEFFERSONTOWN POLICE DEPT, KY
What inspired your agency to partner with the 911 Cell Phone Bank (911CPB)?
Our agency was inspired to partner with the 911 Cell Phone Bank due to the frequency of intimate partner violence in our community. At the height of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, Jeffersontown Police Department (JPD) offence reports of intimate partner violence increased 69%. Frequently abusers’ control, monitor, or destroy the victims’ cell phone, disconnecting them from the needed assistance and support. We started to research ways in which we can eliminate this barrier and a colleague, Elynne Greene, with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, suggested the 911 Cell Phone Bank.
What benefits has your department and community experienced since using the 911CPB program?
Partnering with 911CPB program has provided JPD the ability to create a lifeline to some of our most vulnerable citizens. The ability to hand a device to them at no cost has helped to eliminate barriers to services and increase participation in the criminal justice process. The increase in communication and support afforded to us through this program has provided an increase in emergency protection orders, court appearances, supportive services, and a decrease in repeat calls for services.
Our community phone collection drives have led to an unanticipated benefit – the positive publicity that resulted in public awareness. In addition, citizens have been able to contribute to the effort by donating unused devices which has enhanced relations with our community.
Can you share an experience where a victim of human trafficking has benefited from a 911CPB cell phone?
Last year, JPD investigated a large case of human trafficking in our community. While responding on scene to a local hotel, we located a young woman with three small children in need of a significant number of services and support. The young woman had no income, limited amount of clothing & food, and did not have a means to communicate with the detectives, prosecutors, and victim services to arrange assistance. JPD provided her with a 911CPB cellphone free of charge. During the following year, we were able to stay in contact with the victim and arrange emergency food assistance, transportation to her investigative appointment with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, permanent housing, assistance with school registration for her small children, and through the cellphone she was able to arrange therapy appointments, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and receive ongoing updates regarding the criminal justice outcomes including but not limited to perpetrator custody status, court proceedings and hearing information, and outcome. These services were invaluable in establishing services needed for this human trafficking victim and her children recover from their victimization and the successful prosecution of the offender.
What encouragement would you offer to others who are interested in donating phones and other electronic devices to the 911CPB?
Thinking about having a donation drive or collection site for unwanted phones and other electronic devices can seem overwhelming. When I first entertained the thought of hosting a collection, it felt overwhelming, but that quickly subsided with through correspondence with the 911CPB. They mailed everything needed to start [collection] boxes, graphics, and even paid shipping labels. Our department was worried initially about tracking the donations but 911CPB does all that for you and even at the end of the year sends a year-end report. We posted a flyer on Facebook and shortly after, phones and other electronics started flooding in. The community was excited to help and be freed of all the unused devices in their homes. We received multiple positive local publicity though news coverage. It’s just an amazing program!
What advice or feedback would you offer to other law enforcement or victims’ agencies if they are considering becoming an agency partner with the 911CPB?
Just email them and start today. 911CPB provides you with everything you need to launch your own 911 cellphone program. They are quick to respond to all requests and are just lovely to work with. They even activate* the sim cards of the phones while we are still on scene establishing that lifeline in real time. Partnering with 911CPB is one of the best decisions we have made to help support victims of crime in our community.
*phones are activated during 911CPB operating business hours. All phones can contact 911 in an emergency until the phones are activated.