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Mesa police, Phoenix shelter team up to end domestic violence

MESA, Ariz. — When the Sojourner Center needs clothes, food, or furniture to help the women and children staying at its domestic abuse shelter, it now has more connections and manpower to do so.

The Mesa Police Association announced a partnership Wednesday, the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, through which the association will use its public and community service presence to raise awareness about and money for the center.

Carole Bartholomeaux, a spokeswoman for the association, said the partnership is more of a mutual admiration society.

“It’s not a partnership where they are going to get together all the time, the hours they both work are so intense,” she said. “It is a partnership where someone from the center can call them up and say we really need some clothing or some furniture and the guys will come together and get whatever is needed.”

The partnership is really about letting the Sojourner Center know it has the support of the association’s 700 members.

Rick Perine, president of the Mesa Police Association, said before the partnership, officers didn’t know how best to help victims of domestic violence.

Perine said the most obvious solution was to arrest the offenders, but added in most cases that wouldn’t be the last time an officer would see the abuser.

Arresting the abuser doesn’t always fix the problem, either, he said.

“We need services such as the Sojourner Center to help educate, that open people’s eyes it’s a resource, it’s a tremendous resource,” he said.

Now the officers have a safe place to take those victims.

Maria Garay, CEO of the nonprofit, said the goal is getting victims of domestic violence to the point where they feel self-sufficient and can live free of violence.

The center offers a variety of programs, including GED and workforce preparation, counseling and child care.