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North Hills

Ross police offering programs to help keep special needs residents safe

Tony LaRussa
| Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, 4:24 p.m.
Families who care for people with special needs can obtain an electronic bracelet for them to wear that police can use to locate them if they become lost.
Families who care for people with special needs can obtain an electronic bracelet for them to wear that police can use to locate them if they become lost.

Ross Township’s police chief is reminding residents who care for children or adults with special needs about a pair of programs to help ensure they are safe.

Several years ago, all police officers in Allegheny county were trained on how to demonstrate more “understanding and compassion” when dealing with people who have autism or other special needs, according to Chief Joe Ley.

But to be able to respond properly, officers need to know the person they are trying to help has special needs.

“We have an information package that families can use to register with the county so if there ever is a call (to 911), EMS, fire and police will know what the special needs circumstances are,” Ley said.

A second program in which the township participates is called Project Live Saver, which employs an electronic system to help locate a missing person who has special needs.

The program developed through the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office provides an electronic bracelet that emits radio frequencies that officers can use to track the location of the wearer.

Ley noted that a recent incident involving a girl with special needs is an example of how such a system might be useful.

The chief said the girl, who is about 12 and cannot communicate verbally, left her bicycle along Babcock Boulevard “and was nowhere to be found.”

She was eventually located safe at her father’s business, but the incident served as a reminder of the benefits of using technology.

“If this girl had become lost and was wearing one of these bracelets, we would have been able to call out a team of people to track her right to her location,” he said.

Some 50 officers in the county, including three from Ross, are trained to use the system, which could be used to locate people suffering from conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and post traumatic stress disorder.

For more information about the programs, call the police department at 412-931-9070. Officers involved in the program are: Michael Orsino, Ext. 151; Robert Farina, Ext.159; or Dean Chiaramonte, Ext. 164.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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