TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and Stephen M. Sweeney that would establish training guidelines and require State and local law enforcement to work with the national Safe Return program when locating lost Alzheimer’s patients received final legislative approval today in the Assembly.
“Imagine suddenly realizing that you have no idea where you are; your surroundings are unfamiliar, you’re scared and you don’t know how to get home,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “This is an experience that often happens to Alzheimer’s sufferers and others with related conditions. This measure would require police to create guidelines for the safe recovery of these individuals, and help ease the fears of lost individuals and their families.”
The Senators’ measure, S-2185, would direct the Department of Law and Public Safety to work in conjunction with the Safe Return program to create a training policy for State and local police personnel to follow when working to recover individuals who are lost as a result of Alzheimer’s disorientation. The measure would dictate that the policy include guidelines for identifying, communicating with and caring for persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related disorders. The measure would include guidelines for instruction on the methods Safe Return uses to locate lost individuals.
The Safe Return program is designed to work with local law enforcement agencies to locate and safely return lost Alzheimer’s sufferers to their families and care givers.
“This is an important safety mechanism for residents who are affected by Alzheimer’s,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem. “Victims of this disease are very vulnerable when lost or in an unfamiliar setting. This legislation requires proper training for our law enforcement officials so they know how to care for and return lost individuals safely and efficiently.”
The measure was unanimously passed the Senate on February 14. It now heads to the Governor’s desk where his signature would make it State law.