A Nassau County police program that helps authorities identify residents with cognitive disorders in the event that they go missing will soon be expanding, officials announced Tuesday.
The two-year-old program, Return Every Adult & Child Home (R.E.A.C.H.), received a financial boost from the Nassau County Police Department Foundation, a nonprofit that has partnered with the county to build a new state-of-the-art police academy.
The $6,000 donation from the group will help Nassau authorities purchase 5,000 wristbands, lanyards and identification cards to assist officers in identifying individuals already registered in the program or who are interested in joining.
“This [identification] kit will help further speed the identification of the missing person that has registered,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said at a press conference where he was joined by police brass, leaders of the police foundation and the family of a man with a cognitive disorder who has gone missing before.
The program, which launched in 2010, provides law enforcement officials with information and photos of the person suffering from any one of a number cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and autism.
Police officials said those registered in the program will have their photo and other important information released to police officers in the streets within seconds.
Kathy Kammerer, whose husband, Brian, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s 10 years ago, described R.E.A.C.H as an “extra safeguard” that makes it easier for her to be away from the couple’s home when she’s at work.
“It was enough dealing with the fact that he was not going to remember me, my children, and our three children, but as years went by my husband also couldn’t speak anymore,” Kammerer said. “He didn’t understand, we would call his name, he wouldn’t answer to us.”
Brian went missing several years ago, she said, but he was discovered at a mall in Bay Shore by authorities who quickly obtained his information through R.E.A.C.H.
“This program is amazing for me,” she added.
“We believe in the significance of this program,” said Eric Blumencranz, chairman of the NCPD Foundation. “This identification items will not only help our law enforcement, but they’ll help our citizens.”
The foundation’s donation comes less than two months after a former top Nassau police official was found guilty for conspiracy after he squashed a burglary investigation revolving around the son of a former foundation board member. Two other top NCPD officials charged with allegedly covering up the case are awaiting trial.
“I don’t take any bad reflection from it,” Blumencranz said of the verdict. “My interpretation from it is that the district attorney looked at the foundation…and gave us a perfectly clean bill of health, that we had no wrongdoing whatsoever.”
Blumencranz noted that the foundation—which has raised $4 million since it opened in 2008—struggled to raise money since the investigation but has recently rebounded.
Residents interested in registering a family member in R.E.A.C.H and obtaining a wristband and identification card can do so on April 20 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Nassau County Police Academy in Massapequa Park.