The Washington Police Department is starting a program to safely help residents who have dementia, Alzheimer’s or a confused mental state.
The city has started the “Project Safe and Sound” program that helps officers identify loved ones who might be lost and confused and bring them home. The program is open to individuals and families of all ages who have a loved one who has an illness or handicap that causes mental confusion.
“We thought it was a good project to do,” Washington Police Chief Mike Healy said.
To be a part of the program, a form is available at City Hall, 101 N.E. Third St. Caregivers can confidentially fill out the person’s information, along with caregiver information. Caregivers can also provide a photo that will help officers identify the person who needs assistance.
The department will keep the forms and photos on file. If a person is then found by officers to be confused and disoriented out in public, they will have the information to get that person home safely, and contact caregivers.
“It is to help the family and to help us to keep that person safe so they don’t get hurt out here,” Healy said. “We’ve run across people who have wandered off and they didn’t know they wandered off. If we have the picture here, and we run across that person, we know how to get a hold of somebody.”
Healy said the idea for the program came two weeks ago when Capt. Steve Mize approached him about the idea. Mize then took the lead and created the program, including creating the form. The chief said there has been a few instances of confused individuals found on city streets in the past couple weeks, but it is not a growing trend.
The program is not only for elderly residents who may have dementia or Alzheimer’s, but was also created for children who have autism or another handicap that causes mental confusion.
“It’s just another way we want to step forward and help the community a little bit,” Healy said.
The form will also be available on the city’s website, www.washingtonin.us, in the coming days and can be turned into city police.