NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police are often called to scenes of domestic violence, and now they’re trying to help victims in a new way.

Those who have served in the military or law enforcement likely know about the coins that are traded, swapped and collected by officers.

As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, the newest challenge coin was just created by Lt. Neil O’Keeffe and Sgt. Frank Maiello, from the NYPD’s domestic violence unit. They wanted to sell the coins to raise money for the families most in need who have experienced domestic abuse.

Each officer designed a side of the coin.

O’Keeffe was inspired by the iconic statue in the lobby of police headquarters.

“It just shows you a policeman protecting a small child, and you have the NYPD police flag and the you have American flag. It says ‘domestic violence unit, keeping family safe,’” he told Hsu.

Maiello used the chief of department shield with a purple background.

“Purple is the color to represent domestic violence. In the background is the flag saying, ‘New York City’ and then ‘police department,’” he explained.

The officers charged $10 a coin and immediately sold out, raising $3,500. Then the New York City Police Foundation donated $5,000 to the program, bringing the total to $8,500.

The officers then went to Target to buy $100 gift cards to be given to families experiencing domestic abuse throughout New York City.

“Target was like, we love your idea, and they decided to match it. So they gave us another $8,500,” Maiello said. “It was just a great idea the way it just snowballed from $3,500 to $17,000 like that.”

So now, 170 families most in need will be given $100 gift cards.

“The hopes is just to let people who experience domestic violence know that the police department really does care about them,” Maiello said.

The head of a local domestic abuse group told Hsu the program not only helps survivors but helps raise awareness about the important issue.


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