What is an “Inspire Article”?
The Inspire category is a way to showcase progress on an issue. These articles consist of positive outcomes on the issue, and can even include case studies of progress on similar issues outside of Palm Beach County – in the hopes we can apply the knowledge, and be inspired to do more!
Advancing Safety With Silver Alert
By: Captain Jeffery C. Lindskoog, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, Florida Silver Alert Support Committee
It is 1975....it is a quiet, uneventful day on routine patrol when the police radio chirps up to advise that 72 year old Mr. Jones (fictitious name) has walked away from the house again. You drive over to the house where Mr. Jones lives and get the lowdown. You then advise everyone over the police radio what Mr. Jones was wearing and then you head out to find him. Fortunately he was right around the corner. You put him in your patrol car and return back to the house, drop him off, and then return to your patrol duties. Yep....it used to be as simple as that.
But that was 35 years ago when no one really understood the issues of Alzheimer's and dementia related disorders.
Wind the clock forward 20 years or so, where dementia issues are becoming better understood and when dispatch advises of a Signal 8A (Missing Persons with Alzheimer's) many in law enforcement have now come to understand the urgency and perils associated with this type of call. Moreover, law enforcement traditionally considered their responsibility for finding a wanderer finished once the victim is found. But we now know the importance of contacting an appropriate service agency to do follow up with the victim or their caregiver. It is in everybody's best interests to see that the victim does not wander again.
It is 2008; Governor Christ signs an Executive Order that creates the Silver Alert Plan for the State of Florida. Utilizing the system model forged by the Amber Alert Program, Silver Alert quickly overtakes the use of the emergency notification system. And in little less than 2 years more Silver Alerts are issued than the past 10 years worth of Amber Alerts...and little wonder....with approximately 500,000 Florida residents suffering from some form of dementia related disorder, coupled with the increased awareness of the dangers if the victim is not located quickly, you have an overwhelmed emergency notification system.
That brings us to 2010 and the effort to get a handle on this notification problem. Under the guiding leadership of CEO Mary Barnes from Alzheimer's Community Care, Inc, the Florida Silver Alert Support Committee has ensured that every Police Chief and Sheriff in Florida will receive training kits with the materials necessary to bring law enforcement staff up to speed on Silver Alert, as well as materials to educate their communities. The Silver Alert Plan provides the public with the information necessary to help law enforcement locate wanderers that have gone mobile.
It is now the norm for police officers to work to find permanent solutions to the calls they respond to, instead of bringing the wanderer home and calling it a day. The work of the Florida Silver Alert Support Committee has provided the tools necessary for the collective partnership of Law Enforcement and Community to be successful in protecting some of our most vulnerable citizens.