New Mohave County Sheriff’s Program Protects Vulnerable and Disabled People

Mohave County residents who may be worried about the misplacement of a vulnerable loved one can now get help through the Sheriff’s Office’s new Take Me Home program.

The Take Me Home program, originally developed by the Pensacola Police Department in Florida, was brought to northwest Arizona by MCSO Search and Rescue to help people who may need special accommodations .

What ultimately became a four-year process to implement the new program was partly prompted by the 2018 death of an 8-year-old autistic boy whose body was found in the Colorado River after wandering from his home of Bullhead City a day earlier.

“We felt there had to be a way to improve our response and we can search for people who are at risk, especially children with autism,” said Bob Rose, commander of Kingman Search and Rescue.

The program is free to any Mohave County resident who may have difficulty communicating and is especially for people at increased risk for wandering, including people with autism, Down syndrome and other disorders. cognitive or developmental, such as older people with dementia.

“It’s going to help us save lives, it’s going to help us find people at risk, in our minds, much faster,” Rose said.

All information in the database will be kept confidential and retained by MCSO and may only be viewed by law enforcement. If law enforcement finds someone who cannot communicate where they live, they can search the database by description and refer the person to their next of kin. The system also works in reverse – if someone goes missing, their photo and description are immediately available to law enforcement.

In the past, when someone has gone missing, the process of gathering all relevant details from family members can often take time and delay the search, Rose said.

“With this program, we should have this information at our fingertips,” he said.

Enrolling an adult or child in this program is free for citizens, but it is their responsibility to keep the system up-to-date and up-to-date, the county said. Therefore, they require anyone registering a person to be a family member or legal guardian of that person.

Included for each person is a current photo, height and weight and other identifying details and emergency contact information.

“Especially with autistic children, even something as simple as recommendations on how to approach the child, because they’re all different, will really help us bring these people home sooner,” Rose said. .

Contact Northern Arizona reporter Lacey Latch at [email protected] or on social media @laceylatch. Coverage of Northern Arizona on and in the Arizona Republic is funded by the non-profit organization Report for America and a grant from the Vitalyst Health Foundation in association with the Arizona Republic .

Ryan H. Bowman