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Cpl. Melinda Wray

The Blotter
With Corporal Melinda Wray, NPD

On a recent spring morning in April, a man wandered into the Police Administration Building in Downtown Norfolk. The man smiled politely with a wide, toothy grin and stared at the officers. When asked if he needed any assistance, the man simply stated, “I think I’m lost.”

The man knew his first name and believed he was married. He recalled living in Connecticut in the 1970’s and was dressed in newer clothing with shoe soles that hadn’t been worn through miles of walking. Without a wallet or identification cards, a cell phone would have surely shed light on family contacts. As he pulled his hands from his jean pockets, a few strands of lint fell from the lining. His hands were empty and officers were left with a 60-year-old man, whose memory ended in 1975.

Thankfully, out of all the buildings in Downtown Norfolk, the man managed to open the one wooden door located under a small, blue awning. Behind the door were the Chief of Police and his officers ready to assist. One hour later, police radios could still be heard broadcasting the lost man’s description in hopes of finding family.

After scouring the Downtown streets, a woman was located outside the Battleship Wisconsin. A worried wife was comforted with the knowledge her loved one was found as officers reunited the family.

Unfortunately, the task of searching for wandering or lost individuals with cognitive conditions is a growing and serious responsibility. Without effective procedures and equipment, response to these incidents can involve multiple agencies, countless manpower and thousands of dollars. Most importantly, every minute lost increases the risk of a tragic or devastating outcome.

Project Lifesaver addresses this growing concern and has saved countless lives in the process. Families can easily enroll in the program and their loved one is immediately equipped with a small, personal transmitter that resembles a bracelet. It can be worn around the wrist or ankle and emits an individualized tracking signal to caregivers. Should a loved one go missing or wander away, the caregiver notifies Project Lifesaver and a trained emergency team responds to the wanderer’s area. This has significantly reduced the search time from days and hours, to an average of 30-minutes.

If you or a loved one had suffered from the affects of Alzheimer’s, autism, Down syndrome, dementia or other cognitive conditions, Project Lifesaver may be your answer.

Both the Norfolk Police Department and the Norfolk Sheriff ’s Office have trained employees working hand in hand with this program. This partnership can save time, money, and most importantly, your loved ones.

For more information about this program, visit their main website at:

www.projectlifesaver.org or contact your local law enforcement agency.

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April 2016
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