Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday)

Around-the-clock domestic violence solace enabled by grant

- By Rio Lacanlale

A $500,000 grant awarded to SafeNest will fund a 24-hour expansion of Project Safe 417, a joint program with Las Vegas police designed to reduce domestic violence killings.

The award from Nevada Women’s Philanthro­py comes as the number of calls to SafeNest’s 24-hour hotline has skyrockete­d amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the first week of Nevada’s initial emergence from the coronaviru­s-triggered shutdown, the number of calls from domestic violence victims seeking resources jumped 70 percent. And Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo also has said that domestic violence calls jumped by at least 13 percent during the pandemic-triggered shutdown, which left many victims trapped at home with their abusers for nearly two months.

“We are honored to partner with SafeNest and are proud of their accomplish­ments today,” Sara Costello, president of the philanthro­py organizati­on, said at a virtual news conference Thursday. “We are especially proud of their collaborat­ion with the Las Vegas Metropolit­an Police Department in delivering this project.”

Project Safe 417, which was launched in December 2017, was one of the first programs of its kind in the nation to pair officers with advocates to counsel victims in the

To learn more about the grant or to become a member of Nevada Women’s Philanthro­py, visit www.nevadawome­nsphilanth­ Informatio­n about becoming a SafeNest volunteer can be found at

crucial moments after a crisis. The program, named for the Las Vegas police code for domestic violence, was first piloted in Metro’s Northwest Area Command before its valleywide expansion in February.

But because the team has just 17 advocates, the expansion into other parts of the valley was limited to a 5 p.m.-3 a.m. daily window.

Now, with the support of the grant and Nevada Women’s Philanthro­py,

SafeNest CEO Liz Ortenburge­r hopes to move to 24/7 coverage by March.

“Project Safe 417 is about saving lives. So often, victims of domestic violence are left on the scene of a 911 call with few resources to reach out to,” she said Thursday. “We know overwhelmi­ngly that women and men who are victims of domestic violence that are escalating toward homicides do not reach out to agencies like ours out of fear, so when we can respond alongside Metro to the scene, we are connecting them with life-saving resources.”

To get to 24-hour coverage, SafeNest will need to add three staff advocates and 200 to 500 volunteers, Ortenburge­r said.

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