WPD starts first ever 'Return Home Safe' program
Weatherford Democrat - 8/23/2018
Aug. 22--The Weatherford Police Department is dedicated to ensuring the safety of its residents and has joined The Blue Line community connection program as well as creating the first ever Return Home Safe program.
"[Return Home Safe] is geared toward our senior community member that may have memory loss issues or anybody on the spectrum as far as Asperger's (syndrome), autism or something where they can't tell a third party that they may be lost or need help if they go missing," Weatherford Community Services Officer Paul Tumlin said. "If they're in the program all they have to say is 'Johnny is missing,' and dispatch can pull up a file that has identifying information and an updated photo and dispatch has all that right then and there so you're not panicked trying to give information to them and they can then send that out to patrol immediately."
Tumlin said Weatherford Police Chief Lance Arnold wanted to implement some policies that would benefit the community and that's why the Return Home Safe program was created.
"I'm not aware of any department doing this program specifically and now I've had other departments reach out to us and ask about it because they want to start it, so that's pretty cool," Tumlin said.
A participation form will need to be filled out with descriptive information as well as a photo that will need to be updated every two years. The forms can be found at the police department, or Tumlin said he can meet with a resident -- within the city limits -- about it.
"We'll get information about where they frequent or what they enjoy doing. We like to know what the hobbies are so it gives us a general idea of where they might be," Tumlin said. "Then anytime we do have to utilize it, which thank goodness we haven't yet, we'll go in the system and update the information to show where they were found last time, so we can go back and check there. A lot of children go to the same place."
Tumlin said time is important in finding a missing person and this program helps.
"Especially in our summer months, time is imperative in finding somebody, especially elderly in the Texas heat. We have to find them as soon as possible," Tumlin said. "So any time we can trim off the actual caller giving dispatch this information and then dispatch having to type it and relay it to the officers when it's already there, it's very important and we have to think about that. We want to put in in place to make sure people are actually safe."
The Blue Line is another program that many departments have implemented to help people who are homebound.
"It's just a reassuring phone call once a week for homebound community members that may just want some peace of mind knowing that we're still thinking about them and that we're here if they need us," Tumlin said. "A lot of times our senior community doesn't want to be a bother and we don't want them to feel like that, so maybe us reaching our to them shows them that they're not."
The police department will call a participant and if they get no answer they will call the next day. If there is no answer on the second day, an officer is dispatched to the residence for a welfare check.
One local homebound woman has been signed up for the program for a few weeks and because of safety concerns, the Democrat is not using her name.
"So far it's good. It's nice to know that there's somebody available when you need them," the woman said. "I've been here since 1981 and the whole idea of another person to talk to is just invaluable to me."
For more information about these two programs offered by WPD, contact the community services division at 682-229-2612 or email Tumlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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