Longueuil unveils alarm system for domestic violence victims
Victims of domestic abuse in Longueuil may start feeling a bit safer, as the city rolled out a new alarm system geared specifically towards them on Monday.
Carmen, the first person to receive the new alarm, asked not to have her last name used for her own safety. She said that once her ex-partner gets out of prison, she’s convinced he will try to get in contact with her and the device is helping her feel safer in her own home with her six-year-old child.
Longueil police said the panic-button style alarm will be distributed to those deemed eligible and at-risk. That will be determined by shelters and support networks for victims.
“If the man who has charges against them does not respect those conditions that are put in place and he keeps repeating the same type of behaviour, that puts the woman at risk,” said Deborah Pearson, director of Pavillon Marguerite de Champlain.
The device is also meant to streamline the emergency response system.
“It’s like an elderly person who has a panic button for health issues,” said Longueil police spokesperson Jean-Pierre Voutsinos. “She activates the panic button and automatically a call is lodged with 911, with information being put out on computer screens. We’ll know exactly the address, me might know the victim’s ex-husband’s name and his car. So when police officers arrive at the address they can locate the suspect faster.”
The same system has been in place in Montreal since 2011, where last year, 36 women were given the alarm.
“It’s a really good thing. It’s been working. It’s always good to have every equipment or everything to support our victims. We know it’s not easy especially when we’re talking about conjugal violence,” said Montreal police spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant.
Over 1,000 cases of domestic violence were reported to Longueil police last year alone.
Earlier this month a coalition of women's groups came together to put pressure on the government to do more to prevent violence against women.
Part of that coalition is the Shield of Athena, and executive director Melpa Kamateros said while the alarm is one concrete measure the coalition is looking for, even more needs to be done.
“We can also do prevention programs, we can also make more people aware of what the issue is. There are issues in the legal system that can be clarified and simplified as well,” she said.
Those who support victims say with 18,000 cases of conjugal violence reported every year in Quebec, the more support and security they have the better.