News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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September 27, 2013

SALT group identifying seniors’ safety concerns

TERRE HAUTE — Tucked away in a meeting room at the lower level of a local library, a small group of concerned citizens met Thursday night to discuss issues important to an often vulnerable group in the community.

Seniors’ concerns were heard at the meeting of a local organization called Seniors and Law Enforcement Together Council at the Vigo County Public Library in downtown Terre Haute.

SALT is composed of older adults in the community, and  it acts as the advisory council to the Vigo County Triad, a group of local agencies and law enforcement “dedicated to reducing fear and incidents of crime against older adults,” according to a group letter.

SALT will “serve as a council to tell the Triad board what to do,” said Tina Kruger, meeting facilitator and secretary of Triad.

“The goal of this meeting tonight is to find individuals who want to get involved in addressing the issues that concern older adults in the community,” Kruger said.

More than getting older adults involved, the meeting was also about identifying issues that need to be addressed in the community and how they can be done, Kruger told the group.

The meeting was facilitated by Triad chairwoman Lori Aplin.

“We cannot do it ourselves,” she said. “We are organizations [referring to the Triad] but you are our target audience. You’re the ones that are going to tell us what is important to you. We cannot do it without you,” she added.

The group responded with enthusiasm and shared personal experiences and views about topics such as scams, telemarketing, crime and neighborhood watch.

Brenda Newman said she attended the meeting because she wants to gather information for herself and the older adults she cares for in her job. She is also part of Ryves Neighborhood Association and has expressed interest in bringing information back to her neighborhood watch.

Some of the information shared at the meeting included programs that already exist in the community. Facilitators talked about Coffee with a Cop (see story on Page A1), Scam and Fraud Education Workshop and Operation Medicine Drop, a program that allows for the safe disposal of prescription medication.

Kruger also told the group about results of a community action survey conducted by the Triad board that identified issues facing older adults in the community. The findings indicate that identity theft tops the list of issues that respondents thought are “major concerns.” This was followed by fraud or con artists and then burglary.

As of early September, 183 people had completed the survey.

Respondents also said they would be “very much interested” in having more police in the neighborhood, expanded neighborhood watch programs, more accessible sidewalks and walkways, and street lighting improvements, Kruger said.

Based on the attendees’ suggestions, the group identified some short-term actions: to reach out to Ryves Neighborhood Association, put together a flier for other neighborhoods without neighborhood watch groups to gauge interest in forming one, and educational outreach in high crime areas. Other suggestions included partnering with programs such as Crime Stoppers and looking into grants to improve street lighting, particularly in high-crime neighborhoods.

The group has decided to meet once a month.

SALT is going to be a year-round initiative that is “watching out for our seniors,” Aplin said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@trib star.com.

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