|Columbia County Sheriff's Office
David W. Harrison, Jr., SHERIFF James R. Sweet, UNDERSHERIFF
|Copyright ©2006 Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Hudson, NY 12534
SENIOR SAFETY NET
April 18, 2007
Columbia Co., NY Sheriff David W. Harrison, Jr. and Kathy Revene, Administrator of the Office for the Aging
announce the establishment of the Columbia County Senior Safety Net Program, which is intended to help
ensure that senior citizens or a person with a disability is not left unattended, by use of a computerized phone
call to verify their welfare at the same time, every day.
Sheriff Harrison said that he and Administrator Revene had been talking about the need for a program which
would assist Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities who reside alone in Columbia County and do not have
contact on a daily basis with family members or another person, who is in a position to assist them if needed by
calling for help. A program that would help ensure that they are not left unattended.
Both Administrator Revene and Sheriff Harrison stress that this is not a substitute for these individuals to always
have a way to call 911 for help themselves. This program is would assist if they are in their home and are not
able to indicate that they are alright when the computerized call is made.
The Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies currently do respond to Health and Welfare Checks
when there is an indication that there may be a problem by a neighbor or family member living a long distance
away, “but sometimes we are contacted too late”, said the Sheriff. Both the Sheriff and Administrator Revene
agree that with the Office for the Aging and the Sheriff’s Office working together, the Senior Safety Net should
provide additional assistance to more people on a daily basis. Sheriff Harrison said that he will be reaching out
to the other law enforcement agencies in the county to ask for their assistance with the program and has
already spoken with State Police Captain Robin Benziger and Chatham Police Chief Kevin Boehme, who both
said they will participate.
Participants of the Senior Safety Net will receive a phone call at the same time every day from a computer at the
Sheriff’s Office. Once answered, a digital recording will ask them if they are “OK”. The participant will then push
a number on their phone to verify that they are OK. If they do not answer the phone or do not push the
appropriate button on their phone after two calls, a call will be made to the Sheriff’s Communications Center
electronically and a Communications Officer will then try to call the person. If unable to verify their welfare, a
Sheriff’s or local police patrol will be dispatched to the residence to check on them.
Most of the funding for the program comes from funds left over from a previous grant awarded to the Sheriff’s
Office by NYS Senator Stephen Saland. Sheriff Harrison said that in early 2006 he found that there was just
over $6,500 left over from a 2003 grant. When he called Senator Saland to see if those funds could be used for
the Senior Safety Net Program, the Senator said he thought this was a great idea and that he would file the
appropriate paperwork with the Division of Criminal Justice Services to reallocate the left over funds.
The Sheriff said that Director of Emergency Management William Black was also able to provide $4,000 from
Columbia County Emergency Management.
Additionally, S & F Communications on Rte 66 in Greenport have donated an $800 upgrade to the phone
system at the Sheriff’s Office which is necessary for the program hardware to function.
The total cost of the hardware and software was $9,845 and was purchased from Data Base System
Corporation. The equipment is at the Sheriff’s Office and is being installed.
Set to begin June 1st of this year, those who may be interested in participating in the Senior Safety Net Program
can call the Columbia County Office for the Aging, 518-828-4258 for an informational brochure. All applications
for the Senior Safety Net will be processed by the Office for the Aging.
Both Sheriff Harrison and Administrator Revene would like to thank Senator Saland, Toni from Senator Saland’s
Office, Kit Ali, Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Thomas Lanphear, County Attorney Dan Tuczinski, Director of
Emergency Management William Black and S&F Communications, as well as the County Board of Supervisors
Legal Committee, Human Services Committee, Public Safety Committee and Chairman James Keegan.