02/09/05 — Princeton police chief outlines plan to assist senior citizens, disabled

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Princeton police chief outlines plan to assist senior citizens, disabled

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on February 9, 2005 2:11 PM

PRINCETON -- Princeton Police Chief Eddie Lewis has a plan to help senior citizens who may become disabled.

Lewis told the town board that a Meals-on-Wheels volunteer had tried to deliver lunch to an elderly woman. When the volunteer knocked on the door and got no response, she contacted the chief.

Lewis said he pounded on the locked doors and windows of the home and also got no response.

The next day a Rescue Squad member entered the home and found the 84-year-old woman conscious but lying on the floor for almost two days.

"I wouldn't want that to happen to my mother," Lewis said.

Lewis suggested to the town board that senior citizens could voluntarily sign a permission slip and give the police a house key so that the officers could check on them if necessary.

Lewis noted that Princeton has an aging population and said such a program could be an excellent public service and offer peace of mind for many people.

But town Commissioner Walter A. Martin Jr., a Smithfield police detective, cautioned that Smithfield does not have the program because it could face "a huge liability."

Commissioner Eddie Haddock, however, said the program would be voluntary.

The four-man board took no action on the plan but agreed to discuss it again in March.

The chief also asked for the board's help in buying a patrol car to replace an aging, disabled auto. The board agreed to let Lewis look into buying a used Jacksonville police car with about 50,000 miles.

Lewis also announced that the list of condemned buildings had been turned over to the town attorney for further review. The chief said the police also will canvass the town March 12 for junked cars, solid waste issues and other problems.

Lewis said he had obtained a $7,200 local law-enforcement block grant with a 10 percent town match. The grant will be used for new bulletproof vests. He also updated the board on other grant applications.

Princeton police now will handle collisions at U.S. 70 and Pearl Street. In the past, Lewis said, the Highway Patrol had investigate those wrecks. The Governor's Highway Safety Program also is developing a five-year history, the chief said, of the five major intersections with U.S. 70.