Kennewick Police Have New Weapon - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Kennewick Police Have New Weapon

KENNEWICK, Wash. - The Kennewick Police Department is arming its officers with a new weapon. It's small enough to fit in your pocket, but police claim it will have a big impact against domestic violence.

You might not think of your cell phone as a weapon against crime. But for some people it's their only escape in a life threatening emergency. From now on Kennewick Police will have them on hand in case you need it.

"Beep."

That little beep means the cell phone is working. But for some the sound means hope to escape the brutality of domestic violence.

"So many victims don't have a way to reach out for help when they need it," said Kelly Apkin, Domestic Violence Services of Benton & Franklin Counties, Executive Director.  

Victims stuck in an abusive relationship, sometimes don't have a way to call for help. Officers report either an overbearing spouse controls the phone or victims don't have one they can use in an emergency.

"I have members of my own family that have one cell phone for the entire family, five people. If that person has the cell phone for that day, what are you going to do?" said Patrol Officer Jeff Sagen, Kennewick Police Department.   

So from now a handful of Kennewick squad cars will carry cell phones officers can hand out to domestic violence victims. Officers think the phones will play a big part in preventing domestic abuse. Last year over 800 victims in the Tri-Cities called for help. And violence advocates hope those who couldn't, now have a way to escape.

"It's one more way to reach victims of domestic violence. It's one more way to reduce their isolation and their vulnerability," said Apkin.   

Phones are donated from the non-profit group Cell Phones For Life. Each phone is free, but if you get one you can't use it to call whoever you want. Each phone only dials 611 for information or 911 for emergencies.

If you'd like a phone for 911 purposes, all you have to do is call Kennewick Police at 585-4351.

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