On May 10, 2016, two City of Lakewood police officers responded to a 911 call near the 8800 block of Bridgeport Way SW for a welfare check.
When the officers arrived, they observed a 91 year old woman inside. She could not get our of her chair.
While the officers could see her, they could not help her because the front door was locked. She gave officers permission for a forced entry.
If you are not a burglar, I can tell you it feels strange to force enter someone’s home even as a police officer. As a real estate broker, I never felt completely comfortable entering someone’s home after having been provided a house key and permission. If you are a burglar, well you know what it feels like.
After forcing entry and making contact, the officers developed rapport with the woman and managed to keep her calm.
CABIS, is an acronym I know you have never have heard since I just now made it up. CABIS stands for COPS ALWAYS BE INVESTIGATIN STUFF. In this case, the officers had to find a friend or relative that could help. On the face of it, that would seem like an easy and quick task, but it is not always easy or quick.
In this incident the officers did an awesome job finding a relative in Minnesota. The helper was separated by 1700 miles from the helpee. The Minnesota relative provided the contact information for the victim’s local care giver. The care giver agreed to modify her schedule to assist the victim with her immediate needs.
Police officers like solving problems, but there are always two stressors on cops.
- Officers want to handle one call at a time and do the job correctly.
- Conversely, when the 911 calls are stacking up, a police officer does not always have a lot of time to generate solutions. A cop does not want his fellow officers burdened with 911 calls piling up in the patrol district he is responsible for.
In trying to do the right thing, one of the officers drove home to pick up his carpenter tools. The officer returned and repaired the woman’s damaged door.
The Lakewood Police officer’s actions, which were above and beyond the call of duty, saved the victim both time and money. The victim might have gone several hours or days before her door was secured. Imagine living and sleeping in your house when you can’t lock your front door.
After all this the officers were not finished problem solving. They wrote out a sheet with the woman’s emergency contact information and attached it to her refrigerator door. Should another officer or the fire department be dispatched to help the victim, they would be greatly aided by the posted information.
A byproduct of my having conducted welfare checks during my 23 years as a street officer can be reduced to four important life management tips.
TIP 1 – LIVING ALONE: If you have a loved one or friend, especially a senior citizen who lives alone, I recommend you establish a daily contact agreement.
Here is how the plan works. When my mother was in her 70s all the way up to age 93 and living alone, we agreed she would call me every day between 9:00a and 1:00p. It can be a quick call. “Hey Joe, I got my day started.” “Great Mom.”
If I did not hear from her, I would call her. If she did not answer the phone, I would drive over to check on her.
This system does several things. A loved one might not be able to use the phone, but still be alive. If you discover your loved one’s plight soon enough, you could save a life.
More seriously, you might discover that your loved one has died. While this discovery is going to be shocking, it is much, much and may I say one more time for emphasis, much better to make the discovery sooner rather than later. I have experienced what it is like to make the discovery a week or a month after someone has died. Trust me on this and I will spare you the details. Sooner is better than later, every time.
TIP 2 – MEDICAL ALERT: Consider a medical alert device. They come in two flavors. Flavor one is a simple pendant button worn around the neck. If the individual is in trouble, they push the button and are connected by hands free speaker to a monitoring service. The deluxe flavor includes what I call a “tip-over switch”. If the subject falls, the device triggers contact with the monitoring service, which is especially helpful if the victim is not able to push the emergency button.
TIP 3 – KEY BOX: Install a secure key lockbox in a well chosen location. They are available at Robblee’s Total Security and other area vendors . Had there been a key box in the incident described above, the Lakewood Police would not have had to force entry. The expense of the key box will be much cheaper than repairing or replacing the door.
TIP 4 – MEDICAL – CONTACT SHEET: Copy the Lakewood police officer’s action by placing a medical condition / medication list / emergency contact list on the refrigerator.
There are two ways to learn things. The easy way and the hard way. If you take action on tips 1 – 4, it is possible you may be extremely pleased you did. If you do not find time to follow through on these tips, I will understand, but you may be extremely sorry you did not. No worries. I will never tell you, “I told you so.”
One last thing. Excellent work, Lakewood Police. As I compare your actions with your department’s mission statement, I see you supported 3 of the 5 goals of your Mission Statement.
(1) PROTECT LIFE & PROPERTY
(2) REDUCE CRIME
(3) BUILD BETTER COMMUNITIES.
I, for one, am proud of you.