News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

September 27, 2013

Group sets up senior coffee time with police

TERRE HAUTE — A group dedicated to making life safer for seniors is launching an initiative in Vigo County: Coffee with a Cop.

Vigo County Triad, a not-for-profit group, will soon begin hosting monthly meetings at a Terre Haute coffee shop to allow seniors to chat in a relaxed atmosphere with officials from law enforcement, including the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department, the Terre Haute Police Department, Indiana State Police, the Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement and others. The group met Thursday morning at the THPD.

“We’ve gotten overwhelming support for this” from area police, said Lori Aplin, chairwoman of Vigo County Triad. “I think this will be a really good thing.”

The first Coffee with a Cop meeting is being planned for October. The group is hoping to meet at the same venue each month.

Vigo County Triad is part of a statewide effort to better protect older people from crime, especially fraud. The local group, which launched in May, is one of two dozen in Indiana, including a Triad group in Vermillion County.

“It’s another open forum for us to meet with people,” said John Plasse, chief of the Terre Haute Police Department and a member of the Triad board. “The more the better.” Terre Haute is fortunate in not seeing a lot of crime directed at older people, he said, but “even a few cases is too many.”

Seniors are often trusting and, unfortunately, sometimes targeted by scam artists, noted Sheriff Greg Ewing, also a member of the Triad board. Home improvement fraud, especially in the spring and fall, often targets older people living in the county, he said.

Coffee with a Cop is “an excellent idea,” Ewing added, noting it gives law enforcement a chance to meet with seniors and let them know what to look out for. It also gives members of the community an opportunity to ask questions of those in law enforcement, he said.

The program is “very positive and opens up that dialogue with seniors,” the sheriff said.

The Triad group is seeking a $1,000 grant from the Indiana Attorney General’s office, which helped launch the statewide effort. That money will be used to provide educational items for distribution at the Senior Expo, scheduled for Oct. 16 at Hulman Center. The group is also working to get a dedicated telephone number and a website.

Triad recently surveyed nearly 200 people in the area and found a real need for an organization that connects senior services groups, law enforcement and older people, said Tina Kruger, secretary of the Triad group. “There are definitely some safety concerns with older people in this community.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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