BLAIRSTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (Warren County) – The Blairstown Police Department is launching a new program that will help track down missing people with special needs.
The police department created the “Blairstown STARS” program after a concerned parent presented a question and the police did not have a good answer. The parent said, “if the police department had any programs for a special needs person that may go missing?”
The department knew something had to be done, so how did they fix it?
Police will create a detailed profile that every officer in the Blairstown Police Department will have access to, in case a special needs person goes missing, police said.
The profile will include:
- A yearly updated picture that a designated officer assigned to the STAR program will meet with, take their picture annually, and make the visit a positive interaction with the person.
- Address of the person.
- Parent/guardian contacts and emergency contacts.
- A detailed outline of their special need i.e. non verbal, deaf, emotional behaviors etc.
- Areas of interest to the person, listed and also a aerial map showing the area with identifiers, body’s of water.
- Things that may assist the officer communicating and showing the person they are there to help them.
How will the profile help the Police in a speedy recovery? Police gave these possible examples:
- When police receive the call from our dispatch, the dispatcher gives the officer all known details. A missing person with special needs will que the Officer to find the profile and go to the identifier, using the address tab or name. When the Officer pulls up the profile, they will have a picture so they can be checking the area as they are responding to the address, and have all vital information in case they encounter the person before meeting with the caller, knowing the person’s name, and their needs.
- While on scene Officers gather all possible information, a missing person is a tragic event. Parents, guardians, a sibling, or a family friend who may be watching the person may forget, not know, or remember all pertinent information to give to Officers. Officers will have a detailed outline of the person as a backup reference.
- If Officers need to put out a BOLO or enter a person in missing persons the profile can help expedite the process. If parents/guardians consent, the up-to-date photograph attached in the file can be used immediately to be put on the Police Departments Facebook page for helping locate the person.
If additional recourses are needed, other police agencies, search and rescue, or any officer can explain the details of the person, show their picture, and show the map of areas of interest to be checked with priority.
All information is non-discoverable relating to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and all participants in the STAR program will not be shared with other participants. Only officers from the Blairstown Police Department will have access to each file. If ever the file is needed, only pertinent information will be administered to other outside Police or volunteers for a fast and safe recovery, police said.
Police defined a star as something very special and no two are alike. A star is so beautiful that it must be cared for with extra love and care.
“The Blairstown Police Department will always go above and beyond for the residents we serve. With this program, we want to give back to our stars and their galaxy (parents). That is why we created the STAR Program,” police said.
If you wish to have a family member enrolled in the program, contact Cpl. Herzer at RHerzer@Blairstownpolice.org or call 908-362-7668.