Wednesday, August 17, 2005
InRe: Missing person located by VIPS (Volunteers in Policing Services)
Location: Intersection of Ewing and St. Joseph, southeast South Bend
Last Wednesday, August 10, at approximately 9:45 a.m., a family member of an 83-year-old white female called dispatch in concern for her welfare as she had not returned from a morning walk. Having searched the Walker Field area where she usually walks to no avail, the man asked for police assistance in locating her. He explained she had been gone for 30 minutes or more, and had set out from the 2100 block of West Prairie Avenue.
Several units were dispatched within minutes, and three VIPS volunteers in their marked car joined in the search. VIPS are trained to assist the SBPD in a variety of ways during their shifts and are also endorsed by the City of South Bend for their services.
Searchers were advised the woman is 5’2”, weighs 115 pounds and was wearing a long-sleeved blue or purple sweatshirt with dark pants. She was also described as being able to walk lengthy distances in short time-spans. The VIP car, driven by veteran Betty Hawn and accompanied by Nancy Collins and Benjamin Modlin, passed a woman matching the description at the intersection of Ewing and St. Joseph and pulled over to verify the same. Calling for police support, the VIPS stayed with the woman until Cpl Joseph Lauck arrived to escort the woman home. He was also joined by Cpl. Millard Hill to explain the “Project Lifesaver” apparatus to the woman’s son. (People taking part in St. Joseph County’s new program wear a personalized bracelet that emits a tracking signal; enabling search teams to find and recover missing persons in less than 30 minutes on average.)
What took the team efforts of police and volunteers approximately a half-hour to accomplish likely felt much longer to worried family members. Seconds count when a person goes missing and their chance of survival decreases after 24 hours. Thanks to the prompt, professional and personally dedicated efforts of the VIPS and SBPD officers, this outcome was not tragic. Sighs of relief and a safe ending resulted with the reunion of the woman and her son.