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Northern NY Counties Deploy Technology That Aids Searches

Clinton, Franklin, and Essex Counties are the latest in New York to join Operation Lifesaver – an effort by law enforcement agencies to use technology to speed search and rescue operations.  This afternoon, sheriffs’ departments from the three counties demonstrated the technology that they hope will save lives. 
Operation Lifesaver uses FM radio technology.  Someone with autism, Alzheimer’s or another condition wears an ankle- or wristband with an embedded unique frequency.  If they wander off, law enforcement can track them quickly.  

Clinton County Sheriff Dave Favro calls it one of the most impactful programs he’s ever seen.   “Having responded to multiple cases of missing children with special needs and adults with special needs and the fear and the  panic in the eyes of the caregivers, the family and the loved ones wondering if they’re going to be able to recover their person with special needs quickly enough before the elements set in, before medical conditions set in, or before they’re taken advantage of.  So this is an incredible moment to be able to provide this level of comfort and this level of excitement to people in our community that are quite often forgotten about, to be honest  with you.”

Franklin, Essex and Clinton County are partnering  for a tri-county roll out of Operation Lifesaver in the North Country.  Devices have already been distributed to some families.  Lindsay Baker-Flora got a wristband for her autistic 11-year-old son Jonah about a month ago.   “It means so much to us as a family to have this. Because I never know if he’s going to just run out of my house or run out of school and now I know for sure they would actually be able to help me locate him.  It just means so much to me.”
Jonas Baker-Flora adds:  “You can’t take it off so if I get either lost or got taken away by a stranger they will track this machine to my bracelet and they can hear a beep if they get closer.”

During a live demonstration,  Sergeant Nicholas Leon took a wristband and left the area.  Later, Sergeant  William Dominy unfolded the directional  antenna and described the system before leading a group on the search for his co-worker.   “I’m looking for the strongest signal…….I was able to pick up that I have a ping that way. …We lost beeps right?  So I lost it here and I lost it here.  That means he’s straight ahead…..I can see him from here and there he is.”

Sargeant Leon and the media who had accompanied him were located in less than 15 minutes about a quarter mile from their starting point.

The New York State Missing Person’s Clearinghouse is based at the Division of Criminal Justice Services.  Program Manager Cindy Neff notes that the technology has been deployed across the state. “A total of 746 personal transmitters and the accompanying technology to track them have been distributed at no cost. The state purchased the technology with approximately $253,000 that we used from the Missing and Exploited Children’s Special Revenue Fund.”

All but seven counties in the state are now using the technology.  Those interested in participating should contact local sheriffs’ departments online.