Free cell phones for emergency use

Law enforcement wants used phones

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The cell phones came in droves after the Kern County Sheriff's Office asked the community to donate used phones.

People dropped off dozens and dozens of used cell phones at the sheriff's office after 23 ABC aired the story a few weeks ago.

"The initial response was overwhelming. Secure the Call sent us a barrel. A collection barrel, we put it out in our lobby and the first morning, we filled the barrel within several hours," said Ray Pruitt.

The sheriff's office partnered with Secure the Call, a national non-profit group that refurbishes used cell phones, wipes out the memory and then resets it for emergency calls only. Later, those phones will be redistributed back into the community to those who are in need.

"People can get the phones for free. Victims of domestic violence, school crossing guards and even bus drivers. There are a variety of different citizens and individuals who can benefit from this program," said Pruitt.

Groups advocating for senior citizens said these phones will be very beneficial, especially for those seniors who are not tech savvy because one button will get them in touch with the proper authorities.

"Those seniors who are isolated, shut-ins can really use those phones. It's really important that they have access to emergency services at a moment's notice," said Michele Gomez of Kern County Aging and Adult Services.

Many seniors have medical disabilities where a fall could be a matter life or death, and a land-line could be out of reach. Advocates said the free phone could be a great tool for safety.

"I just think it's also great for seniors who are in abusive situations or domestic violence; that's a sad subject; but its reality and we have a lot of seniors out there. They really need to have that emergency phone service, so they can call the police when needed," said Gomez.

Anyone wishing to donate their used phones can drop it off at the Kern County Sheriff's Office during regular business hours at 1350 Norris Road.

For further information about the program go to, www.securethecall.org. 800-813-0344

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