The county needs a dozen more electronic security systems to help protect victims of domestic violence, social service officials say, and they're turning to local businesses to help.
Five such security systems -- which afford protection for abused victims, their homes and their cars -- have been in use for about six months. But the need is far greater, said Sandra L. Rappeport, director of the Carroll County Family and Children's Services.
Jerry F. Barnes, Carroll's state's attorney, said his office anticipates handling more than 500 domestic violence cases this year.
Many victims -- usually women -- will seek court protective orders because they are being stalked and harassed by their abusive spouses or boyfriends.
Between Jan. 1 and May 31, nearly 400 petitions for emergency protective orders were filed in the district and circuit courts of Carroll County, according to the state's attorney's office.
"These women live in constant fear, and it is often difficult to get them to testify against the abuser because of that fear," said Marcie Sweren Wogan, deputy state's attorney.
One way to alleviate that fear is to help them obtain a wireless security system package, which includes an alarm for their home, their car and a personal panic pendant or key chain that can be used up to 100 feet from the base unit.
The base unit is connected to a telephone that automatically calls the security company, which in turn immediately notifies police.
Each system costs about $1,100 a year to purchase, install and operate, Rappeport said.
Jim Emerick, a retired state policeman and sales representative for Westminster Security Inc., said other companies sell home, car and personal alarms separately. But none have packaged all three to provide abuse victims and their families with such extensive protection, he said.
Advocates for the package say it provides a victim with support between the time the court puts an abuser out of a home and then takes the abuser into the courtroom.
The main problem, Rappeport said, is having to turn away applicants for the system.
Westminster Security donated five systems last year to help start the Domestic Violence Security Program. Victims are expected to keep the systems for up to six months -- long enough for the abuser to go to trial or receive counseling.
One woman has purchased the system and had it moved to her new residence, Emerick said.
The security program has worked as expected, Rappeport said. The security systems serve as a major deterrent, keeping the abusers away from the victims, she said. "We just need more of them."
Applicants must meet certain criteria, including regular attendance in private or group therapy. They also must have filed a police complaint against the alleged abuser and must cooperate in any prosecution.
Rappeport said she will seek help from the Chamber of Commerce, hoping that local business owners will consider donating money to purchase additional security systems.
"If we can get a business, or even two, to share the cost of a system, we could begin to increase the assistance we are able to give these victims," Rappeport said.
Pub Date: 7/18/97