Mayor takes on domestic violence

Mayor Tim Keller holds up an information card during a press conference on Wednesday at Enlace Comunitario. The information card shows a host of different languages and will assist first responders in domestic violence situations. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller closed Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a news conference Wednesday afternoon emphasizing the steps his administration is taking to tackle domestic violence, along with city departments and community organizations.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their home,” Keller told a crowd of community members at Enlace Comunitario. “This is something fundamental, this is fundamental about who we are as people and who we are as a community, and what the concept of home means. It should come with safety.”

Representatives from several local organizations – including Enlace Comunitario, New Mexico Asian Family Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center and Safe House – stood alongside the mayor as he acknowledged that the city “has a long way to go.”

Authorities say 19,000 New Mexicans reported domestic violence last year in the state and, of those, 7,000 children were directly affected.

Keller outlined the actions being taken to address those numbers across the board – from on-scene first responders, and better access to resources to more funding and breaking the language barrier.

Keller said the Albuquerque Police Department is utilizing community policing to help build trust and relationships within neighborhoods as the Family Assault and Stalking Team goes door to door in vulnerable areas to make sure the right information is available.

Going forward, he said, all APD cadets and Albuquerque Fire Rescue members will be required to undergo domestic violence training.

In a new approach, Keller said all first responders will be equipped with a cellphone app, iSpeak, which connects to a translator and information card that can guide them through the process in a variety of languages.

“Language access is so important when it comes to domestic violence and accessing a host of services,” he said.

Keller said the app and information cards will allow witnesses or victims to talk with first responders at the scene, rather than have it done at a later time elsewhere.

“The idea is to do it as soon as we can,” he said.

Various city departments have also taken steps to fight domestic violence.

The Department of Senior Affairs has provided resources and information at their events and centers, Family and Community Services has requested $910,000 in funding for domestic violence services and Keller’s administration is co-sponsoring a domestic violence prevention conference with the Bernalillo County Community Health Council next month.

“Today is the last day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but sadly domestic violence occurs every day of the year; it is epidemic,” said Juliann Salinas, associate director of Enlace Comunitario. “Collectively, however, we can have an impact.”

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