Local Law Enforcement Unveil New Program To Find Missing People - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/8/08

Local Law Enforcement Unveil New Program To Find Missing People

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NewsChannel 11 is revealing a revolutionary program that will forever change the way Lubbock authorities search for a missing person. The program, known as Project Lifesaver, will also save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The search for a missing person typically lasts nine hours or more and on average costs $300,000. The startup cost for Project Lifesaver is $6,000 and the average search time is half an hour.

Aside from saving money, the program gives caregivers of people suffering from mental disorders peace of mind. "Project Lifesaver is a tracking device for people that have dementia related disorders like Alzheimer's or maybe even kids that have Autism or Down Syndrome that may tend to wander or bolt and run," says Vincent Seger, with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office.

Each person who participates in the program will wear a transmitter either on their wrist or ankle. Should they wander off the Lubbock Police Department, Sheriff's Office and DPS will be hot on their trail thanks to these tracking devices.

Authorities will search on foot, by car or by air to recover the missing person. "The program is such that within 30 minutes you can find them. It's going to save a great deal of time and money and get these people back to their loved ones where they're not out in the elements," says Captain Tony Menchaca, with the Lubbock Sheriff's Office.

To date, Project Lifesaver has a 100 percent recovery rate nationwide with more than 1,600 people found.  Pilot Club of Lubbock was the driving force behind this project. "We're a service organization that focuses on individuals with brain injuries and brain disorders," says Becky Hudson, President of Pilot Club of Lubbock.

Local law enforcement jumped on board when the service group offered to fund the project. "What we're hoping for is the safe return of any individual in Lubbock that might have the tendency to wander and give some peace of mind for their caregivers," says Hudson.

This past November, 77-year-old Eldon White, who suffers from dementia, went missing from Lubbock.  White was discovered in Abilene 23 hours later. Authorities believe that with Project Lifesaver, White would have been back home in about 30 minutes.

NewsChannel 11 actually had the chance to show how the transmitter works. NewsChannel 11's Holly Kennedy hid behind a building, in between two cars and was found within minutes.

"Ten people found you in four minutes in a downtown area with thousands of hiding places," says Seger.

Next time authorities say they will experience a different type of satisfaction when someone is found. "I think ultimately that's the goal. Certainly having capability to go out and locate these people would be a great benefit but just the peace of mind this program can bring to these people is phenomenal," says Captain Menchaca.

Thanks to grants and a $10,000 donation from Accolade Home Health Care, the Lubbock Sheriff's Office hopes to have the bracelets available at a lesser cost to the public within the next 30 days.

NewsChannel 11 will be the first to let you know where you can go to get a Project Lifesaver bracelet.

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