Northport Police Department Completes
Dementia Friendly Training
By Michelle Carter
Public Information & Human Resources Manager
West Alabama Regional Commission
Area Agency on Aging
Northport Police Lieutenant Mark Glenn can easily recount the times, as a traffic officer on night shift a decade ago, he and his colleagues responded to and/or assisted a citizen who was found wandering, lost and confused. Some couldn’t remember their own addresses. Some made calls that seemed out of the ordinary and raised red flags to officers and first responders that something just wasn’t right. Many times, these cases carry a common denominator – a person struggling with Dementia. For the lucky ones who were found by Lt. Glenn or other officers, they were returned home to loved ones or caregivers. Sadly, this is not always the case. Members of law enforcement, along with first responders, receive many calls in which they experience firsthand the very real dangers Dementia can bring both a patient, as well as those responding to the call.
In 2018, Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law Alabama House Bill 427 which includes the requirement “local law enforcement officers and other emergency personnel complete first responder training for missing persons with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia…” The West Alabama Regional Commission Area Agency on Aging is offering Dementia Friendly Training to law enforcement agencies and first responders in the West Alabama area free of charge. The Agency was awarded a 2018 Dementia Friendly Community mini-grant from the Central Alabama Aging Consortium (CAAC), the Area Agency on Aging that covers Autauga, Elmore, and Montgomery counties. CAAC started the Dementia Friendly Alabama Initiative in January of 2016 with the goal being to provide education, training and a multitude of resources. Funding from the mini-grant is being used by the West Alabama Area Agency on Aging for ongoing outreach in the seven county West Alabama region. Part of this outreach includes Dementia Friendly Training and resources for law enforcement and first responders. The sessions will help officers to become more knowledgeable, sensitive and responsive to Demenita. Each attendee receives a toolkit, Dementia Resource Guide and printed version of the presentation. There is also an interactive portion of the two-hour course called ‘AgePlay’ which simulates situations faced by people as they get older.
The Northport Police Department is the first law enforcement agency in the West Alabama region to receive the Dementia Friendly designation. Nikki Poe, Aging Services Coordinator at the West Alabama Area Agency on Aging, presented Assistant Chief of Police Keith Carpenter and Lt. Glenn with certificates of completion for the department and the 82 officers who participated in the training which they completed in January. Assistant Chief Carpenter said with Northport having a high population of Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facilities, as well as a large elderly population, it is not uncommon for dispatch to receive welfare calls on wandering individuals. Lt. Glenn agreed the training is a valuable tool for officers in the area to respond properly and with empathy to individuals with Dementia. “As police officers we always want to respond appropriately and in order to respond appropriately you need to be able to recognize certain characteristics of Dementia. The training helps our officers to respond more appropriately.”
More Dementia Friendly Training sessions are planned for the West Alabama community including in March when first responders and others will go through the program at the new E-911 center in Northport. For more information about Dementia Friendly Training in West Alabama or Dementia Friendly Alabama please contact Nikki Poe at the West Alabama Area Agency on Aging at 205-333-2990 or Nikki.firstname.lastname@example.org
Local media coverage of NPD completing Dementia Friendly Training