- Los Angeles has launched a countywide initiative, L.A. Found, to help quickly locate people with dementia, Alzheimer's and autism who might wander away and go missing.
- Participants in the program wear bracelets that can be tracked and located using handheld receivers in police helicopters and some ground units. The bracelets use radio frequency technology to send an electronic "chirping" signal so rescuers can locate the missing person.
- The bracelet is not under constant monitoring; police will only deploy receivers once a person has been reported missing.
Losing track of a person who has a condition that makes them prone to wandering is a frightening experience. Time is of the essence in finding the person to prevent harm.
During these missing person cases the police often get involved, and in some cases they might put out a "silver alert" to encourage the community to keep an eye out for a missing senior citizen. But because the person might not be able to communicate that they are in danger, might not go to places that are familiar to them and might not even wander to a place where other people are around, tracking down people with these types of conditions can be tricky.
Beyond the police putting out alerts, municipalities often have limited involvement in finding people with conditions that make them wander off. Services and technologies to prevent wandering and track individuals who do go missing tend to be offered by private companies.
But the L.A. Found initiative is a partnership between the county and the bracelet provider, nonprofit Project Lifesaver — which charges $325 for the bracelets, but leasing and financing options are available. The partnership puts to use modern tracking technologies to find these missing persons with a more targeted approach, which can speed the search and use fewer resources.
Los Angeles County estimates it has more than 177,000 residents with Alzheimer's who could benefit from this technology, not to mention those with dementia and autism.
“Our LASD mission is to be the eyes and ears in the sky and on the ground. This technology literally enables lost loved ones to communicate their location to us and enable us to do all we can as first responders, to bring peace, comfort and families back together again,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in a statement.