Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and police Chief Charlie Beck today kicked off Domestic Violence Awareness Month by announcing that grants totaling nearly $1 million will be used to expand the LAPD's Domestic Abuse Response Team program.
The DART program trains civilian domestic violence service providers to respond with police officers to domestic violence calls.
The grants -- $900,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice and $71,000 from Verizon -- will allow the department to add three new fully staffed DART teams in the LAPD's North Hollywood, Southeast and Harbor divisions.
Seven other DART teams operate out of Hollenbeck, 77th Street, Southwest, Newton, Van Nuys, Northeast and Rampart divisions.
Villaraigosa said the private funding is crucial, since the cash- strapped state stopped funding the DART program in 2005. The LAPD gets about 48,000 domestic violence calls per year. The department investigates about 20,000 as actual crimes, according to Beck, who called domestic violence a "crime against society."
"As long as we learn violence as children and young adults, we perpetuate violence," Beck said.
Yvette Lozano, director of intervention services at Peace over Violence, said her workers provide vital service to victims, including crisis counseling, shelter placement and help in filing emergency restraining orders.
Peace over Violence workers also follow up with victims, providing assistance with food, clothing and finances -- obstacles Lozano said often lead victims back to their abusers.
As part of the awareness month, the city posts billboards and ads highlighting resources. Eight L.A. landmarks will also be bathed in purple light, the official color of the domestic violence awareness campaign.
City Hall, the iconic columns at LAX, the LAPD Police Administration Building, LADWP fountains, the Caltrans building, Capitol Records, L.A. Live and Staples Center will glow purple at night throughout the month.
"By lighting our city's notable landmarks in purple, we hope to start a conversation amongst Angelenos and bring the serious issue of domestic violence into the forefront of our public's consciousness," Villaraigosa said.
The Aileen Getty Foundation was provided funding for the purple lighting.