Crime & Courts

New tracking bracelets let deputies find you faster in Lexington County

Tracking bracelets will help Lexington deputies find your loved ones

New tracking bracelets will help the Lexington County Sheriff's Department find residents with autism and dementia.
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New tracking bracelets will help the Lexington County Sheriff's Department find residents with autism and dementia.

New tracking bracelets are being rolled out at the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department which will let deputies find residents – many with health problems – more quickly.

The bracelets are geared toward those with dementia or autism

“Law enforcement officers have a soft spot in their heart when, over the radio, the call comes that a child is missing or has wandered off – or a vulnerable adult has,” said Tim Parcheta, a detective who manages the program at the sheriff’s department.

About a dozen residents are signed up already as Lexington County becomes the 21st agency in South Carolina – including Richland County – to use the bracelets.

About 80,000 people in South Carolina have some form of dementia – and about 70 percent of them are prone to wandering, said Sheila Lewis, Midlands program director for the Alzheimer’s Association.

“We have had phone calls where maybe the person is in the home with their loved one and, then in an instant, they’re gone,” she said. “Of course, that’s frightening for the caregiver.”

The tracking program, called Project Lifesaver, uses a bracelet the size of a wristwatch to emit a signal. Deputies can pinpoint the signal if they are within a mile of the bracelet, officials said.

Being able to track children and vulnerable adults with these bracelets will save time and resources, Parcheta said.

“For our shifts, generally, it’s all hands on deck, and we all go to the last place the person was seen,” he said. “We set up perimeters, we use dogs, we use the helicopter as necessary – because it’s that important to us.”

Though the first batch of bracelets – as well as the devices that track them – were funded by federal aid, Parcheta said the sheriff’s department needs help from the community to add more.

There’s no cost to citizens who need bracelets. The sheriff’s department pays about $360 per year for each bracelet, which includes new batteries every 60 days.

Folks who wish to donate can do so through the Lexington County Sheriff’s Foundation, officials said.

This program has seen success in the Midlands,as Richland County deputies found an autistic teen who went missing in June.

Glen Luke Flanagan: 803-771-8305, @glenlflanagan