Operation Aware - Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Tavares Police Department Join Forces
September 21, 2022 (Tavares, FL): Operation Aware began at Tavares Police Department in 2021, partly in response to the growing number of police calls for service involving missing residents with autism/IDD, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia. Operation Aware has continued to develop and today, on World Alzheimer’s Day, Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Tavares Police Department are joining forces to provide a “total approach” to issues these residents and police encounter through Education, Outreach, and Follow-up.
The goal is to get an Operation Aware blue wristband for residents with autism/Intellectual and Development Disorders (IDD), Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and other special needs who might not be capable of providing valuable information about themselves in an emergency. The wristband will do two things:
- Assist Law Enforcement Officers in our interactions with individuals who may require a different response since many of these individuals are non-verbal.
- Help reunite them with family when they wander from caregivers’ supervision even being able to disseminate information with the power of social media in minutes to ask the public to be on the lookout when a loved one goes missing.
The untold stories of families with aging parents or developmentally disabled children cope daily with the very real fear that those family members may wander from caregivers’ supervision, sometimes with tragic results. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 60% of seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia will wander; of those, up to half will suffer serious injury or death if not found within 24 hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in 54 children have autism spectrum disorder and that more than half, or about 60%, were reported to wander. The specter of missing individuals exacts a significant toll on families, communities, and public resources.
- Operation Aware will give free wristbands to Lake County residents.
- The wristbands have a unique number and QR code for each loved one and the public to scan which will direct them to call 9-1-1 and only law enforcement officers will have access to private details. In addition to having QR codes, the wristbands have NFC tags where one can scan their phone over the bracelet and be directed to notify law enforcement.
- Family members can share vital lifesaving information first responders should know. Then in times of emergency, law enforcement officers will be able to search for the person using their name, address, photo, emergency contacts, medical conditions, sensitivities, and even behaviors common to a loved one, and possibly even locations they may frequent. Anything can be noted to ensure our department(s) are versed in the best way to communicate with you and your loved one.
- For example, if you or your family member is sensitive to lights or sirens, the file could be notated to respond without lights and sirens. If your family member is verbal or nonverbal, their file could indicate information for our officers.
Wristbands have a number, and also have a QR code scanned by a member of the public which would inform the public to call 9-1-1.
Wristband never needs charging.
To participate: visit www.Tavares.org/oa or email OA@Tavares.org or visit lcso.org/oa