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West Nipissing Remembers
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Photographs can also be uploaded via the WNPS website. “All the information they give us is private,” St-Pierre assures, “so it’s only for police or emergency personnel. If someone’s loved one went missing, and we had a picture, we’d call that family to authorize us to put that picture on the website or post it.”
The information can be shared across different police services, so that if a person is found in Sudbury, and the police there do a search, it will show the person is on the VPR in West Nipissing. If someone wishes to be removed from the registry, “they simply ask us and we remove them. If somebody wants off, we delete all the information and do not share. It’s totally voluntary.”
by Isabel Mosseler
When police are searching for an elderly person with dementia, or a young person with autism, or any other person with special needs, it helps them to be aware of how the person might respond, how they can best communicate with them, and where they might go. Having details about a person who might need to be approached with special care can avoid endangering that individual, any bystanders or officers. That’s the objective of the WN Police Service’s ‘Vulnerable Persons Registry’ (VPR), in place since January of 2017.
By the end of last year, police had received 30 missing persons reports, including 3 for individuals suffering from dementia, all of which were resolved. The amount of people who go missing underscores the importance of sharing information about vulnerable people, stresses WN Police Inspector Ray St-Pierre.
He believes the registry is potentially very helpful. However, registration is voluntary and while several people have signed up their vulnerable family members, he’d like to see more people doing so. “We don’t have large numbers,” he notes. “We have an aging population and there are diseases, brain injuries, children or adults with autism, so if a caregiver wishes to register that person, there’s a form. It helps us deal with that person much quicker. We add that information to our database and if something happens, that person goes missing or wanders off and can’t be found, we can pull that person’s information up. Or similarly, if a person calls us and says ‘I’m on the side of the road with a person but he’s not speaking to me. He has a name tag’… maybe we can identify that person quicker.”