Serving the Community
From red ribbons and footballs to hot dogs and ID disks the LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Office offers much more to citizens than only physical security and protection, but a host of other contributions involving educational programs, free services and multiple ways they give back to the community as a whole. Over three editions, these contributions will be highlighted to overall inform the public.
One of the LPSO’s largest contributions to the community involves free programs offered to citizens, which includes services for children and senior adults such as the Child ID program and the R U Ok? program.
Project Lifesaver is one of the search and rescue services provided to parish citizens by the LPSO. The free service is designed as a safety net for the most vulnerable individuals – those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Autism, Down Syndrome and any other cognitive condition that causes wandering – and involves wearing a radio transmitter.
“The main purpose of this program is to provide a piece of mind for the community and for those who have loved ones who suffer from cognitive conditions and tend to wander and become lost,” LPSO Detective Richard Smith, who is the administrator for the program, said. “The program breaks a normal search where you have to call out the (local authorities and) fire department, who could spend days looking for the person. The national average time to locate a Project Lifesaver patient is 30 minutes.”
According to the Project Lifesaver’s official website, over five million people in the USA have Alzheimer’s or related disorders and well over 50% of these people wander and become lost. A lost person with Alzheimer’s, Autism or other medical disorders represents a critical emergency and nearly half of those lost will die and/or may become injured if they are not located within 24 hours. To date, the program as a whole has helped rescue over 3,400 individuals who wandered.
Project Lifesaver forms partnerships with local law enforcements and public safety organizations and deploys specially trained teams with the most reliable technology available to quickly locate and return wandering adults and children to their family members. Smith said five officers with the LPSO are trained to operate the equipment for this electronic search and rescue program and he was instructed as the in-office trainer.
Citizens enrolled in the service will wear a wristwatch sized radio transmitter on their wrist or ankle. The transmitter constantly emits a Radio Frequency signal, which can be tracked regardless of where the person has wandered—even into a densely wooded area, a marsh, a concrete structure such as a garage or a building constructed with steel.
Smith said there are certain criteria to become involved with Project Lifesaver.
“There are specific requirements such as someone has to have one of the cognitive conditions as well as a 24-hour caregiver and no access to a vehicle,” Smith said. “For example, it can’t be someone who lives alone and still drives. Project Lifesaver is limited to a mile on the ground and 5-7 miles in the air, so if someone gets in a vehicle, they could be far out of range.”
LaSalle Parish Sheriff Scott Franklin, along with Detective Smith, would like to remind citizens of this free service provided by the LPSO.
“Having a special needs loved one can be stressful in itself, much less having one that is prone to wander, so we are glad to offer this program to help relieve stress on loved ones and caregivers as well as keep more of our citizens safe,” Franklin said. “We hope to put family members’ minds at ease that through this program we can find their loved ones who wander in a timely manner before something bad happens.”
For more information about the service and/or to determine eligibility, call Detective Richard Smith at 992-7361. Information can also be found at the website – www.projectlifesaver.org
EZ Child ID Program
Another free service provided by the LPSO is the EZ Child ID Program for parish Pre-Kindergarteners and second grade students.
The program, a self-contained mobile child ID unit, is a free service to families and provides peace of mind, knowing that in an emergency involving a missing or kidnapped child, they will have data needed to assist law enforcement and for publicizing through Amber Alert and other media agencies as well as identify the missing child when found.
Since its implementation in January 2014, the program has traveled to all parish elementary schools, including Temple Christian Academy, in the spring of each year.
“I think it’s very important to do what we can to keep children safe and this is just another tool for parents to have if something happens to their children,” LaSalle Deputy Sheriff and D.A.R.E. Instructor Jenny Parker said. “Our use of the EZ Child ID Program grew out of a need to fingerprint children when all we had was the outdated fingerprinting process with ink and paper. I found the program, searched for a grant, and the grant was funded through Entergy. The program is now funded by the LPSO.”
According to the EZ Child ID System’s official website, the system is a comprehensive digital fingerprint child identification system equipped with fingerprint analysis software that makes sure necessary “points” on the fingerprint are obtained. Law enforcement will utilize the child’s fingerprints and other information gathered through the ID system in case of emergencies involving missing or kidnapped children.
Parker said she is assisted with the program by Homeland Security Assistant Director Dana Chapman, and that she and Chapman administer the program. She said forms are sent home with students during the school year and parents must sign the consent forms for their child to participate.
“What makes this program unique is that it captures the points on the fingerprints, digital voice and video and then saves all the identifying information to a computer disk, which is only for the parents to keep in a safe place,” Parker said. “The sheriff’s department doesn’t keep any of the information. The files are automatically deleted after the disk is created. The parents have the only disk.”
Parker recommends that if a parent does not feel comfortable allowing their child to be fingerprinted or have a video and pictures taken, they should at least have their children’s fingerprints on paper and recent pictures of their children on their cell phones just in case something happens and their child is missing or has been kidnapped. She also recommends that if parents would like their child to participate in the program, they recommend the child’s ID information be updated every 3 to 5 years.
Parker added that if any parent is interested in having their child participate in this program to contact her. She also added that the system is not only for children but for any person who has autism, Alzheimer or other medical conditions where the person might roam.
For more information and/or to sign up, contact Parker at 992-7364 or Chapman at 992-0673.
Other Ways They Serve
Are You Ok?® Program???
The Are You Ok?® program, a free service offered to parish citizens by the LPSO, is a telephone reassurance system to assist the elderly, homebound and disabled residents of the parish. The program involves a computerized system that makes daily telephone calls to subscribers at the same time and/or times every day of the week to verify their health and safety.
Subscribers choose the time or times for the system to call them at no charge. The subscriber must answer the call, listen to the pre-recorded message and then simply hang up if they are all right. If the subscriber does not answer or if the telephone line is busy, the system will generate two more calls to the subscriber.
If the subscriber still does not answer, then the system will generate an alert to the LPSO. The LPSO will then notify the subscriber’s designated contact or alternate contact person and/or send a deputy to personally check on the individual. Deputies will not enter the individual’s residence without probable cause or invitation.
“We’ve had this service in place since 2014 and I think it’s been a great addition to what we already offer the community,” Homeland Security Assistant Director Dana Chapman said. “It’s not only for the elderly but also for the disabled and homebound. I believe it is really helpful for those who are prone to fall or whose family members don’t live nearby. And it can even be a good reminder of when to take medication each day.”
Chapman explained that the system is not designed to be a lifesaver, although it has proven itself as one, but its main purpose is to provide an additional support when family members and friends are unable to maintain consistent contact with an individual. She added that daily contact with an elderly, homebound or disabled individual helps assure their well-being and gives them a feeling of security as well as eases the concern of friends and family.
For more information on the system and/or to sign up, call Dana Chapman at 992-0673.
Inmate Trustee Program
The LPSO also provides the time and skill of a crew of inmate trustees to work within the community whether mowing at a cemetery or painting benches at the ballparks and more.
According to LPSO Deputy and Trustee Supervisor Jeremy Roark, being selected as a trustee requires the inmate to be in good standing, not be incarcerated for a violent crime or be a sex offender and have a sentence of approximately no more than ten years.
He said the trustees are usually from the LaSalle Correctional Center in Urania and are selected by personnel there and then interviewed by LPSO deputies before accepted into the program. He added that all trustees are held at the LaSalle Parish Jail and are not usually from the area.
“Through this program, we help non-profits such as schools, churches and the towns,” Deputy Roark said. “This program saves money for non-profits. It is also good for the inmates. It helps them get out a bit and learn new skills for when they’re released. One of the trustees had never held a paintbrush before he was in the program. A lot of these guys are from cities and don’t have these type of skills. It’s also good for them to do something to help the community.”
Roark said the trustees also work at public events – the rodeo, high school baseball and softball games, Howdy Neighbor Day, Olla Downtown Homecoming and other events. He said in the community they have done mowing, painting, cleaning up debris after a storm, disaster relief, handing out commodity bags monthly for Food for Seniors and a variety of other tasks. He said if a parish non-profit would like to request assistance from the trustees to contact the LPSO.
This three-part series will be completed in the next edition with more information regarding what the LPSO offers to the community. For more information, call the LPSO at 992-2151.