Starting next week, the Gardiner Police Department will call every weekday morning to check on the well-being of elderly residents or adults with disabilities who live alone and have signed up for a new program, Good Day Gardiner.

Police Chief James Toman said no specific incident led to him create the program, but he thought the department needed to do more to connect with the city’s elderly residents.

If the department is unable to reach somebody, it will contact a neighbor designated on the sign-up form to check on the individual, Toman said. If that can’t be done or if the contact is unsuccessful, the department will send an officer to the residence, he said.

“It’s just a way for us to interact with our seniors and those that live by themselves. They may not have friends or family that live by them to check on them, so we just want to bridge that gap,” Toman said.

He said he noticed the community interaction programs the department does are targeted largely at youth.

This program, which will begin Monday, is designed primarily for those living alone who are 65 or older or have some kind of physical disability, Toman said.

In 2010, 242 households in Gardiner, or 9.7 percent, were made up of someone 65 or older living alone, according to the U.S. Census. That’s slightly lower than the 11.3 percent in all of Maine.

People interested in the program can fill out a one-page form at City Hall, the Police Department or Gardiner Public Library or call the department at 582-5150 to get the form mailed, emailed or delivered to them.

Toman said he’s heard of several law enforcement agencies in the state that have implemented similar programs to check on seniors. For instance, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office started one in October. Its deputies make routine checks on participating elderly residents in the county. Most of the eight people participating as of Feb. 15 live alone.

The goal of the Franklin County program is to check on the safety of the residents and to make sure they’re not victims of scams, abuse or medication theft. In Gardiner, the program’s purpose is just to check on the well-being of the people participating, but Toman said it could develop into a more comprehensive program or lead to similar benefits.

If needed, the Police Department will help connect the residents with other resources, he said. He already has helped connect people who have trouble shoveling with a group of Gardiner High School football players who volunteered to shovel for others in the community, Toman said.

“It’s just us being part of the community,” he said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig


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