The East Ridge Police Department is launching a new Community Care Program for the city's older adults in partnership with alumni of the first class of its Citizens Police Academy.
Assistant Police Chief Clint Uselton said he read about similar programs in other cities and felt a program aimed at meeting the needs of older adults would benefit East Ridge, where about 20% of the population is age 65 or older.
"Some members of that community have different needs than others, and hopefully this is something that can meet the needs of that select group or at least help meet those needs," said Uselton.
Participants in the program will receive a weekly call from a graduate of the Citizens Police Academy to check on their welfare and address any concerns they may have. If they are unable to reach the participant, an officer will be sent to the older adult's residence and their designated emergency contact will be notified.
Police Chief Stan Allen said this is a proactive program with a goal of preventing potential issues, rather than a reaction to existing problems.
"We've already had a pretty good response," he said of the number of participation forms submitted so far.
The program is also a way for alumni of the Citizens Police Academy, a 10-week program for East Ridge residents and business owners that graduated its first class last fall, and officers to engage with the community.
"We're trying to be as interactive as we can," Uselton said of ERPD, adding that the Citizens Police Academy has been really successful.
The academy's second class is currently in its second week and completely full at 15 participants. Since the department is getting more applicants for the Citizens Police Academy than it has slots available, some applicants have been added to a wait list for the next class, which has not yet been scheduled, he said.
The Community Care Program is open to East Ridge residents age 65 and older, and adults 18 and older with physical disabilities may also be eligible. Participation forms for the free program are available in the lobby of the East Ridge Police Department, at 4214 Ringgold Road, and will soon be available on the city's website.
Once the form is submitted, the participant will be contacted by a department representative to schedule a meeting at their home.
Contact Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6508.