Wandering Prevention Initiative
Law Enforcement is tasked with two mandates across the nation and that is to PROTECT and to SERVE. While all aspects of Law Enforcement are of great importance, there is perhaps no greater aspect than the protection and service to the children and the elderly within our community. In line with my Ground Zero Initiative, focusing on identifying the causes for the need to commit crimes, making a concerted effort to educate our youth before they are introduced to drugs and alcohol is key to breaking the cycles of use and abuse. As Washoe County Sheriff, I will work closely with our local organizations such as The Children’s Cabinet to assist them in any way I can to educate the children regarding drug/alcohol abuse and there link to crime. I will also work closely with our partner agencies to assist in educating the youth in our schools. As the Training Committee Chair for the NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS – NV, I will advocate for NAMI training on mental illness and support services to be brought into our school system and within organizations such as The Children’s Cabinet. Early detection and education on mental illness, along with connections with the families of students with mental health issues, is so important. Mental illness is a long road for the person with the illness as well as their families and that road frequently ends with incarceration. I firmly believe because of my work with adolescent and children with mental illness as well as my personal experience with mental illness in my own family, that we can make a positive impact with education and support services.
Washoe County used to be an active participant in the D.A.R.E program, but no longer provides this service to our children. I was a certified D.A.R.E. instructor and believe in early intervention and early intervention is a key to my Ground Zero Initiative. Using the Sequential Intercept Model, early intervention in the education setting can be used as an intercept which could play a key role in the reduction of drug abuse, crime and jail population. I believe it is imperative to take whatever steps possible to save the lives of our children and will do everything in my power to re-institute the D.A.R.E. program in Washoe County.
The elderly pose a very unique challenge for Law Enforcement. Often Law Enforcement come in contact with an Elderly person who my be homeless, have Dementia or Alzheimer’s and who may be in need of constant monitoring and care. If, when contacted by Law Enforcement, they are in need of housing and a stable environment, Law Enforcement is extremely limited as to where they can take an elderly citizen. Most often they are taken to local hospitals, which causes a burden on the Emergency Rooms or they are taken to one of our homeless shelters. Often, elderly citizens with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, will wander away from their caregiver, causing an extremely dangerous situation for the citizen and a difficult and time consuming situation for the officer.
Our community currently has a program called Temporary Assistance For Displaced Seniors (T.A.D.S.), located on the Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services (NNAMHS) campus. T.A.D.S. exists as a location for Law Enforcement who have the need to house a homeless elderly citizen who may have no food or any other type of stable environment. T.A.D.S. not only provides this stable environment, but it allows the officer to be back on the street in a short period of time. Also available to elderly citizens with Dementia, Alzheimer’s or children with Autism and their families is the Wandering Prevention Program (WPP). WPP offers radio frequency tracking for these citizens providing the officers a way to quickly find a wandering citizen and provides a measure of security and peace of mind for the families. The family may learn about WPP in many ways, through resource bags given by Law Enforcement while on a call with the family, Washoe County Social Services, Nevada Aging and Disability Division, nursing homes, memory care facilities or the local Alzheimer’s Association.
As the current WPP Program Manager, I have tripled the size of the program by working with local law enforcement, local charities, governmental agencies and local care facilities. I see the benefit of programs such as these to citizens as well as Law Enforcement. As Washoe County Sheriff, I will work to not only keep these programs in place, but will advocate and assist in their expansion.