Michael L. Lyle, Chief
56 W. Foster St.
Melrose, MA 02176
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 18, 2015
Contact: John Guilfoil
Contact: Jessica Sacco
Melrose Police Chief Helps Launch Silver Alert Community Response Program Statewide, Encourages Communities to Join
MELROSE — Police Chief Michael L. Lyle, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, as well as the Alzheimer’s Association and State Police Lieutenant Robert Sojka, are proud to announce the formal launch of the Massachusetts Silver Alert Community Response Program.
The Silver Alert Community Response Program is designed to pre-plan a rapid response in locating cognitively impaired residents who are at risk for wandering and becoming lost. This proactive approach in protecting more vulnerable citizens operates by collecting vital information in a database about the person including any locations they are known to visit frequently and current photo identification. Equipped with these resources, the program promises to make it easier for authorities to locate loved ones who go missing, especially during the all-important first minutes and hours.
After pilot programs in Melrose and 11 other communities, leaders are now encouraging every community in the Commonwealth to implement the Silver Alert protocols.
“When a family member wanders, it is essential for the police department and other public safety agencies to begin their search immediately, rather than wasting time collecting information after a person is already missing,” Chief Lyle said. “The longer the interval between the report that a person is missing and the start of the search, the more likely the wanderer will be in danger.”
The Massachusetts Silver Alert Law, passed in 2010 and modeled after the Amber Alert, requires that adults with severe dementia who may have wandered and gotten lost be treated as a missing person regardless of how long they have been missing. These missing persons must be treated as high-risk and police departments must respond as such. The Silver Alert Community Response Program will provide law enforcement officials with the necessary tools to attempt to locate these people more quickly by having the necessary information on file.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs has worked closely across state and local agencies to develop the current pilot program which includes twelve municipalities: Amesbury, Dedham, Dennis, Duxbury, Gloucester, Ludlow, Melrose, Norwood, Pittsfield, Taunton, Westwood and Yarmouth.
The Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire have been leading proponents of the collaboration.
“More than 60 percent of people with Alzheimer’s or a related disorder will wander,” said Wessler, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association of the Massachusetts and New Hampshire chapter. “The Silver Alert Community Response Program will reduce the amount of time it takes to locate that loved one, and I encourage any family with a member affected by dementia to consider registering.”
Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant Robert Sojka, of the Commonwealth’s Fusion Center, emphasized the importance of rapid response in successful returns.
“More than half of all wanderers who are not found within the first 24 hours suffer serious injury or worse,” he said. “They face the risk of exposure to extreme weather if they are not properly dressed for it or missing doses of important medications, so finding them as soon as possible is vital.”
For information about ways to reduce wandering, please click on the Elder Affairs website home page at www.mass.gov, and if you live in one of the 12 Silver Alert Community Response municipalities, contact your local Police Department to find out how you can connect.
Those Police Departments and communities interested in starting a Silver Alert program should contact Adam Frank at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services at 617-222-7428.
Melrose residents who are not yet enrolled in the Silver Alert Program can click here for more information. They are also invited to attend an open enrollment event at the Milano Senior Center, 201 West Foster St., Melrose, Saturday May 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
You can also contact John Guilfoil Public Relations LLC at 617-993-0003 to find out how you can model the Melrose Police Department’s Silver Alert Program in your community.