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Mesa police, Sojourner Center team to prevent domestic violence

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MESA – When the Sojourner Center needs clothes, food, or furniture to help the women and children staying at their domestic abuse shelter get back on their feet, 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.

“It’s also for the officers to know that this is what’s going on that they do have this resource to use,” she said

Rick Perine, president of the Mesa Police Association, said that 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 he said in most cases that wouldn’t be the last time an officer would see the abuser.

“It’s not uncommon to visit the same house over and over and over again,” he said.

Perine said arresting the abuser doesn’t always fix the problem.

“Incarceration isn’t the answer,” 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.

“We were sometimes in a bind and we found it difficult, he said. “What are we going to do with a victim? The Sojourner Center gives us that outlet.”

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

It does this by offering a variety of programs including GED and workforce preparation, counseling and child care.

Garay said that partnering with the Mesa Police Association is taking a step forward and broadening the center’s vision.

“It’s important to talk about this, she said “It’s not just an issue of women or partners, it has a community ripple effect.”