Cambridge Police and the Middlesex Sheriff’s office are partnering to launch a new program designed to reduce the time it takes to locate Alzheimer’s patients or autistic children who are prone to wandering off.
The two agencies will begin offering caregivers the SafetyNet by Lojack tracking system service that uses radio frequencies to locate missing Alzheimer’s patients, autistic children or others with cognitive conditions.
The program seeks to quickly locate the missing people to ensure their safety and cut down on the cost of extensive searches, said Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.
“I want people to know this program is out there, especially caregivers,” Koutoujian said.
LoJack SafetyNet Inc., a subsidiary of Westwood-based LoJack Corp, has provided tracking equipment to the Sheriff’s office at no cost. The systems use a tracking device about the size of a watch that can be worn on a wrist or ankle and can be obtained from SafetyNet. A person with Alzheimer’s or an autistic child will wear the device, and if they wander off police and the sheriff’s office can activate the tracking system to hasten the search effort.
Cutting down the time it takes to find a person can be the difference between life and death, especially during New England winters, Koutoujian said. Search costs and the manpower needed for the searches are also a concern, Koutoujian said. The sheriff estimated a search in which an Alzheimer’s patient was found safely in Newton last year probably cost law enforcement agencies $10,000 to $20,000.
The Cambridge Police Department is the first community to partner with the Sheriff’s office on the tracking system, and Cambridge Police spokesman Dan Riviello said the department is excited about the new program.
Cambridge residents with a loved-one who has a cognitive condition and is prone to wandering off can contact Cambridge Police to inquire about the tracking system.