by Joan Hellyer
Falls Township police are starting a new program to help ensure that residents with autism, dementia or other cognitive conditions can be found if they wander from home or get lost.
The department is using about $8,000 in grant money to purchase equipment from SafetyNet Tracking Systems to get the program up and running, administrative assistant Gina Seiler said.
Residents concerned about their loved ones can request a free wristband for them from police that works as a safety tracking device, she said.
If the loved one wanders or becomes lost, the family calls police and a specially-trained officer will be sent to their neighborhood to search for them with a handheld device.
It picks up a radio frequency from the wristband to help locate the lost resident, Gina said.
The Bensalem and Philadelphia police departments are among the other agencies that use the SafetyNet Tracking Systems.
Law enforcement officers have been using the company’s equipment for more than a decade, according to the SafetyNet website.
The tracking service is available in 18 states across the country and has assisted in many successful rescues since the systems were introduced in 2008.
A couple Falls families have already signed up for the service, Gina said.
The department has at least 10 devices to disperse to township residents. It takes a few days for the police to determine if a resident meets the criteria to wear the tracking device, she said.
Call 215-949-9100, ext. 303 for more information about the program.
Gina said she will field calls not just from Falls residents, but also residents from surrounding communities who are trying to see what they can do in their communities to protect their loved ones.
“We want to do anything we can to help,” she said. “It is a huge relief and weight off (the family’s) chest knowing there is something out there.”