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New Fund Sought to Fight Domestic Abuse : Police: Citing Nicole Simpson, Wachs proposes a trust that would pay for an LAPD counselor and more training.

October 17, 1995|JODI WILGOREN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Saying that Nicole Brown Simpson's tape-recorded cries for help continue to ring in his ears, Los Angeles City Councilman Joel Wachs on Monday proposed establishing a Police Department trust fund devoted to domestic violence that would bear her name.

Wachs said he would offer a formal motion later this week to devote an additional $250,000 a year to fighting the problem of domestic abuse.

The money, which is expected to come mainly from city funds but also to include state and federal grants, would pay for a full-time domestic violence coordinator at the Los Angeles Police Department, added training for detectives throughout the city, cameras to help document abuse and informational literature in several languages.

In the aftermath of O.J. Simpson's nine-month double murder trial, "Nothing stands out in my mind more than the cries of Nicole Brown Simpson that, for all practical purposes, went unanswered," Wachs said, referring to the 911 tapes in which Nicole Simpson said the police "never do anything" about her repeated reports of abuse at the hands of her husband.

Noting that the LAPD receives about 140,000 calls each year reporting domestic abuse, Wachs added: "Nicole Brown Simpson is not alone. . . . The magnitude of the problem demands it."

Lou Brown, Nicole Simpson's father, said the proposal "on the surface, would sound great," and he praised the notion of funneling more public funds to the problem. "God knows, we need every bit of help we can get," Brown said in an interview.

LAPD Cmdr. Jim McMurray, who oversees domestic violence training as part of running the Detective Services Division, joined Wachs in announcing plans for the trust fund, and said, "These sort of tools will definitely make our job more effective."

"I would like to devote 100% of my time to domestic violence, but with all the other things, I can't," McMurray said. "This is one area where we welcome the increased workload."

But some activists questioned Wachs' approach.

"That's a good start, but . . . what we have to do is change the attitudes of the LAPD . . . so that each patrol officer is that special person who deals with domestic violence," said Tammy Bruce, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women. "Hiring a person, frankly, is not going to do a hell of a lot."

Patty Giggans, executive director of the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women, noted that shelters already have literature printed in a variety of languages, and wondered whether too much attention is being focused on one high-profile case.

"I do grow a little impatient about hearing Nicole Brown Simpson's plea for help. These pleas for help have been happening all along and every day and continue," Giggans said.

"With all due respect, even to name it after her, in some ways, it's like, 'What about all the women who are not from Brentwood?' To name something at the LAPD for Nicole Brown Simpson when the police didn't do something to help her at the time, I think, is a little belated," Giggans added. "At this point, I almost feel like, can't we just lose O.J. Simpson and get back to work [on domestic violence issues]?"

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