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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 5 years ago

P.D. creates safety net for elderly

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by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

Steve Thomas, Oakland’s chief of police, is reaching out to his town’s older population in hopes that the residents will reach out in return — daily as a member of the police department’s new Oakland Partners.

The well-being program is designed for senior citizens and shut-ins, but anyone can sign up, including single individuals or residents “who live alone and just want someone to know that you’re OK.”

Every day, those who are registered must call the designated Oakland Partners number between 8:30 a.m. and noon to check in.

“If contact isn’t made by phone, an officer responds to the home of the Oakland Partner to check on their well-being,” Chief Thomas said.

Many serious injuries and deaths resulting from falls could have been prevented if the victim could have contacted someone by phone, the chief said.

Residents who participate in the program must submit a registration form and house key to the police department. Forms are available at the Oakland Police Department or its website, oaktownusa.com.

“The Oakland Partners program provides a measure of safety and security to those who need it most,” Thomas said. “We are hopeful that residents in Oakland will take advantage of this…”

He said last week that he already had one elderly couple signed up — “He’s in a wheelchair; she just wants someone to have daily contact.”

Registration is ongoing at the police department. The program began Monday and is provided with assistance from Orange County Fire Rescue. For more information, call the OPD at 407-656-9797.

Oakland has a population of about 2,700 residents, and 16% are 60 and older, according to Thomas.

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