Houlton police to kick off new safety program to check on seniors

Posted March 20, 2013, at 8:31 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — Most people in the state know that Maine has an aging population, and it is not uncommon to see younger citizens taking care of elderly neighbors by shoveling their walkways, checking on them during cold snaps, or mowing their lawns from time to time.

But what happens when older residents don’t have family, friends or even a neighbor they know very well living nearby? What resources are in place to make sure they are safe?

The Houlton Police Department is hoping to provide a safety net for such residents through a new program called Friendly Caller.

The free program, which targets senior citizens and shut-ins, officially kicks off next month.

As part of the program, participants can request to be placed on a list, which will allow them to have daily contact with the police department.

“It is a way that we can ensure that they are safe,” Houlton Police Lt. Dan Pelletier said Wednesday. “We just know that there are shut-ins and other senior citizens out there who live alone or who may have family that live away, and we thought this might be an extra level of security for them.”

Pelletier said that the department participated in a similar program about 10 years ago, but it was much less personal. It was a computer generated program in which participants had to call in to the system.

“We had about 30 people that started out taking part in it,” Pelletier explained. “It was a computer, really impersonal and people told us that they didn’t like it. The number of participants dwindled down to four and people stopped taking part. We think this new program is a lot better.”

Participants will give police their name, physical address, phone number, and emergency contact names and numbers.

Then, between 6-10 a.m. daily, they can call the police department to check-in. If participants do not call during that time frame, a dispatcher will call them. If police are still not able to reach the individual, an officer will go to the physical address to make sure that everything is OK.

Pelletier said that participants can opt out of the program at any time.

If Interested, contact Lt. Dan Pelletier with the Houlton Police Department at 97 Military St. Houlton or call 207 532-2287.

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