Burlington County Sheriff’s Office upgrading locator system for tracking vulnerable residents

Special to The Sun

The Burlington County Sheriff’s Office is enhancing its locator system technology to better assist residents with memory disorders and others prone to wandering or becoming disoriented and lost.

The sheriff’s office is upgrading to AngelSense assistive technology that is better able to track and locate vulnerable residents, including children with developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, and adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

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The upgrade is being funded with a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance.

“The Burlington County Sheriff’s Office helps protect and assist residents in as many ways as possible and upgrading our locator technology allows us to more quickly find an at-risk resident before they endanger themselves,” said Burlington County Sheriff James Kostoplis. “It’s a free program that can save lives and provide greater peace of mind to families with loved ones who may be prone to wandering off and becoming lost.”

The new technology replaces the Project Lifesaver tracking equipment used by the sheriff’s office and participating police departments since 2006. The older system used radio transmitters to track missing persons. The sheriff said that system’s range was unpredictable and required extensive training for officers and frequent battery changes.

The new AngelSense system employs GPS-based trackers that can be discreetly worn as bracelets or attached to clothing. It uses a smartphone app to control its numerous tracking and safety functions, including an alert notifying users when a person leaves a designated “safe zone.” Trackers also have an audible alarm and a speaker that permits caregivers and first responders to communicate directly with a vulnerable resident.

The new system also safeguards privacy. Sheriff’s officers and other participating police departments can only track a person’s whereabouts during emergency situations.

A total of 75 Burlington County residents are currently enrolled in Burlington County’s Lifesaver tracking program. The sheriff’s office plans to use the federal grant funds to replace those households’ tracking equipment with AngelSense ones, starting in early 2024.

Police in Bordentown Township, Burlington Township, Chesterfield, Florence, Mansfield and Mount Laurel participate in the program.

In addition to the locator program, the sheriff’s office also maintains a volunteer Persons at Risk Registry of residents with Alzheimer’s or other conditions that could impair their memory or cause them to become disoriented or have difficulties communicating if they become lost. Enrolled individuals or families provide a current photograph and pertinent information about a person who may potentially be at-risk. If the individual goes missing or encounters law enforcement, the information can be used to quickly identify and return them to their home. It’s a free service and all information is kept confidential and not used for any other purpose.

For more information about the locator program and Persons at Risk Registry, including how to enroll, call the sheriff’s office at (609) 265-3788.

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