DREW HOGAN, VICTIM SERVICES COORDINATOR
WESTMINSTER POLICE, CO
What inspired your agency to partner up with the 911 Cell Phone Bank?
The Westminster Police Department Victim Services Unit has a great interest in providing excellent service and safety planning efforts to the victims of crime and personal tragedy in our city. Partnering with the 911CPB is a great opportunity to provide free pre-paid cell phones to those who need them. Whether it’s a victim of a crime or a senior citizen that finds themselves in need, our victim advocates and officers are glad to provide access to safety with such ease. Our citizens are always so appreciative of the assistance.
What benefits has your department and community experienced since using the 911CPB program?
Our department benefits by being able to serve and meet the needs of our community. The victims and citizens benefit by being able to call for help when needed, complete applications online to access services, make appointments, call for court updates/information, and receive notification of a defendant’s release from jail. Just as important, victims and citizens can remain in contact with their support systems, family members, and friends. Vital to the PD, we can call victims and check in, detectives can arrange interviews, and they can reach out to us. We cannot help folks we cannot communicate with. One little phone can make a world of difference.
Can you share one or two experiences where a victim of human trafficking or domestic violence has benefited from a 911CPB cell phone or another 911CPB electronic device?
We had an elder abuse case we were investigating, where the victim was suffering from mild dementia and her children were essentially holding her captive in her own home. The kids had taken her money (of course) and had taken her phone to stop her from calling for help. She escaped through an open garden gate to a neighbor’s house. She was pretty ruffed up and we transported her to the hospital and provided her with a free cell phone at the hospital. We were able to place the victim in a safe hotel stay while we arranged transportation to her sister house in another state. This elderly victim was so comforted by the ability to talk with her sister and other family members she had been separated from. The phone was crucial to our investigation – staying in contact with her at the hotel and after she left the state. Just providing her a free pre-paid cell phone helped her to regain independence, dignity, and freedom. It was very empowering for her.
What encouragement would you say to others who are interested in donating phones and other electronic devices to the 911CPB?
It is the easiest thing you can do to make a dramatic difference in someone else’s life that needs help.
What advice or feedback would you offer to other law enforcement or victims’ agencies if they are considering becoming an agency partner?
Unless your budget allows you to provide pre-paid cell phones to those in need, you cannot afford not to do this. It costs you nothing and makes a difference in victims ability for safety and the agency’s ability to investigate a case and work toward justice.