• 61°

Law enforcement asking, “Are You OK?”

For senior citizens and others who live alone, Brookhaven and Lincoln County law enforcement officials want to know, “Are You OK?”

The Brookhaven-Lincoln County Triad members, made up of the police and sheriff’s department and the local American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), are in the process of implementing theAre You OK? computerized calling system.

Once in place, the computerized system will call people daily at a designated time, usually between 5 a.m. and noon, and ask, “AreYou OK?” If the call is not answered or if there is a busy signal several times in a row, law enforcement is notified.

“If you don’t get an answer, you send a deputy by the home to check on the folks,” said Lincoln County Sheriff Lynn Boyte.

Boyte said the free call service is designed for older adults,disabled people, shut-ins or anyone else who may need to be checked on daily.

“It’s going to put us in touch with those people,” said Boyte, adding that the call system is not designed to take the place of other emergency alert systems that people may have.

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said Are You OK? is a worthwhile project and he was looking forward to working together on it through Triad.

“I really think the people should take advantage of it,”Henderson said.

The Are You OK? system is in use in over 550 cities and towns in the United States and Canada. The local Are You OK? program isbeing funded through an $8,000 grant from Leadership Council onAging.

Boyte said Triad is working with churches and other groups to identify those who need the service, which is expected to beimplemented shortly after the first of the year.

“I feel like it should be up and running by then,” Boyte said.

Boyte said the necessary equipment is in place, but the call computer needs to be loaded with information. Officials did not have an estimate on how many people would get on the call list.

“I hope we have a lot, because we can really use it,” Henderson said. “It can be a great asset to this city and this county.”

When a participant knows that they will be away from home, they may call the sheriff’s or police department to request that the call service be temporarily stopped.

“As long as they’re home and need the service, we’ll call,”Boyte said.

Neither Boyte nor Henderson expected the call service to disrupt daily law enforcement activity. They said officers and deputies are out and visible and could respond quickly to “Are You OK?” home check calls when needed.

Henderson expected the program would be popular and that participation will increase as word about it spreads.

“After it gets implemented, I think people will really see the benefits,” Henderson said.

Boyte pointed out that Are You OK? is a way for law enforcement to help citizens whom they may not normally see during their daily duties. He said most of the money sheriff and police departments receive go toward apprehending criminals and other crime-fighting measures.

“Not much of the money we get goes toward helping the elderly,who don’t cause us any problems,” Boyte said, touting Are You OK?as a way to assist that group. “This is something I feel very good about.”