The City of Eastlake and the Eastlake Police Department are offering residents a “Special Family Member Directory” to help community members with special needs during crises or emergency situations.
This directory provides police with critical information in an emergency. According to a press release from the mayor’s office, the information is confidential and only available to Eastlake police.
Community members can register their loved ones and provide information that will help officers diffuse the situation as best as possible, according to Judy Moran, who is the administrative assistant in the mayor’s office and spearheaded the directory program for Eastlake.
“When someone is missing or when there is a situation like that, time is so relevant,” Moran said.
She added that the directory registration asks questions relevant to the safety of the loved one and information critical for police to respond optimally.
According to registration forms, some of the submitted information could include:
Hiding places and/or prior situations
Known triggers and/or behaviors
Family crisis action plans
Moran mentioned that the directory was an idea she had as a city council member in Willowick.
“We had a lot of elderly residents and on occasion they would wander off,” she said. “It’s a moment of panic and then when you get that moment of panic, you’re not thinking ‘what were they wearing?’, ‘how do I approach this person if I find them?’, ‘what do I do?'”
Lakewood has a similar directory for community members on the autism spectrum. Moran said that Lakewood’s system was considered when coming up with Eastlake’s own directory.
“We wanted it to be a little bit more broad in scope so that it would handle our elderly residents as well,” she said. “Now with the Miracle Field here in the city as well, I thought ‘if we could just have a directory so that people know who they’re dealing with’…”
Information about the loved one will be stored in a confidential database for the police department. It will then be available to officers who respond to a call concerning said loved one. The release also said that a trained “Crisis Intervention Team” officer might respond when available.
Moran had worked with Police Chief Larry Reik on the directory in the past couple of months.
Reik said that the directory will provide peace of mind for loved ones and also help officers deal with situations as appropriately as possible.
“We have a first source that we can go to to try to figure out where these people belong and how best to assist them to get the help they need,” Reik said.
He added that the department started with a similar hard-copy directory.
“To have this done electronically makes much more sense,” Reik said. “Then we can just — electronically — once a year, go back and get updated information; make sure cell phone numbers, pictures, everything that we have is as current as possible. That will just make our jobs that much easier.”
The directory information and registration forms can be found at https://eastlakeohio.com/special-family-member-directory/.
Information should be updated or submitted every year to maintain accurate records, the release stated.