In an emergency, Colleyville police and fire personnel could have access to a house key to open a home's front door rather than bashing it in to save someone's life.
Such keys would be in lock boxes outside homes, Police Chief Steve Dye told City Council members in a presentation Tuesday.
"It is the first type of program similar to this in Tarrant County," Dye said. "It will expedite access and reduce the damage from breaking in the door."
The boxes will be available, at a cost of $18.80, to any city senior at least 65 years old or anyone under 65 with a medical condition that might render them unable to open their door in an emergency.
After a resident completes an application form and is approved, a police officer will visit to explain the program and get a spare house key. That key will go into a special lock box that can be opened with combination code. The officer will secure the box to the outside of the house someplace near the front door but "not readily visible to the typical street or pedestrian traffic," Dye said. It will not be "overly conspicuous," he said.
That code will be given to the police and fire dispatchers at the Northeast Tarrant Communications center. When an emergency occurs at a house with a lock box, the dispatcher will tell the responding officer the code to open the box.
"We will not use the key in any other circumstance," Dye said. He also said that the homeowner will not know the code. "If that code gets out, it could be abused," he said.
Westlake Ace Hardware in Colleyville is providing the lock boxes at cost, Dye said. If a qualifying resident cannot afford the lock box, the box may be bought for them by the Colleyville Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association.
Application forms will be available at the Colleyville Justice Center and possibly at the Senior Center. Police officers also will have the form or it can be downloaded from colleyville.com/policedepartment.