Thursday, 07 May 2009 16:45

From the Desk of Sheriff Jim Coats Pinellas County May 2009

Written by  Sheriff Jim Coats
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Sheriff Jim CoatsPinellas County, FL.

We recently announced the implementation of a new program at the Sheriff’s Office called “Project Lifesaver”. It is a program that I feel will provide peace of mind to those Pinellas County citizens who are caregivers for a family member or other persons who have Alzheimer’s, autism or related special needs.

Our deputy sheriffs and police officers from other agencies have contact with these individuals on a regular basis as many of them are known to walk away from their residence, become disoriented or lost. Frantic family members and caregivers then search for these persons, who many times do not wander far, but may become vulnerable to the elements, their lack of medication and possible foul play. 

Project Lifesaver is the latest in technology available to assist law enforcement and caregivers in recovering these persons safely and in a timely manner.

Caregivers interested in the program now have the option to register and equip their loved one or client with a special personalized wristband containing a transmitter, which is always emitting a tracking signal. Should the person wander away, caregivers can call 911 and trained search teams will be activated to track the signal with the equipment provided through Project Lifesaver. 

I am pleased that our office will be offering and managing this service on a county-wide basis. Our deputies have been diligently training on the use of the tracking equipment and we have now joined several other agencies around the state in providing this program.

Project Lifesaver International reports the average search time for a missing Project Lifesaver client is 30 minutes.

From January 2008 through March of 2009, the Sheriff’s Office alone had 310 missing person reports involving adults.  Of those, 81 involved persons with Alzheimer’s, dementia or autism and who wandered from caregivers.

Without this technology, the recovery time for these cases was anywhere from two hours to over two days.

Project Lifesaver is an international nonprofit program which provides the transmitter and tracking equipment to us. This is not a revenue-generating endeavor, as the fees pay for the cost of the equipment.

The initial cost to register with Project Lifesaver is $300, which includes twelve mandatory monthly battery replacements and 12 wristbands. The annual maintenance fee after the first year is $70. Some assistance for families who might not otherwise be able to afford the service is available and will be reviewed on a case by case basis

For more information and to register with Project Lifesaver, please call (727) 582-6806 for an appointment or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In addition, you may visit our website at  and click on the Project Lifesaver icon.

I am looking forward to working with representatives from the Alzheimer’s and mental health community who have endorsed our effort, as well as with Project Lifesaver. Through the program we will work towards ensuring the safety and security of our most vulnerable citizens.

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