When Los Alamos Police Ofc. Adele Girmendonk asked Los Alamos High School Instructional Assistant Gina Gonzales to gather some teens to help hang a banner for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, she was happy to oblige.
“It’s about raising awareness,” Gonzales said.
“It [domestic violence] really affects people who go through it, said Lydia Gurule, one of the teens who helped hang the banner Wednesday above Diamond Drive near the high school.
Classmate Jaden Duda agreed. “We all support this,” he said. “If there is more to do I’d be happy to help.”
“I’d like to thank the students who came out,” Girmendonk said. “Their voices are very powerful.”
Girmendonk also gave a shout out to Coca Cola of Santa Fe who paid for the banner.
“This was born out of a need for the community to be more aware,” Girmendonk said. “We want people who are dealing with this to know they are not alone.”
Girmendonk is the new School Resource Officer at the high school. She is working with others to create a group of those involved with preventing and dealing with the effects of domestic violence, including the police and fire departments, hospital staff, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Self Help Inc., Family Council, Family Strengths Network and others. The group will figure out what is needed in the community and work to provide it, Girmendonk said.
“We hope at some time to have a shelter [for victims of domestic violence] in the County,” she said.
The Los Alamos Police Department sees victims across the economic spectrum and from all ethnic groups, Girmendonk said. One problem is the language barrier, since Los Alamos has many residents who are not fluent in either English or Spanish and may be isolated, she said.
The LAPD is looking at the way it handles domestic violence calls, Girmendonk said. The Department is developing a new domestic violence packet and looking into having plain clothes officers meet with victims in a neutral location.
During the month, there will be more activities aimed at raising awareness about domestic violence, Girmendonk said.