Police volunteer Zeno Pfau calls more than 100 of Mansfield’s senior residents each month.
Pfau’s efforts are part of the police department’s wellness check service that aims to provide seniors with peace of mind, safety and, Pfau says, a little bit more.
“Some of these older folks are living alone and they have nobody else, this is a sense of security for them,” Pfau said. “Plus it gives all of them plenty of contact with the police department.”
Pfau visits the homes of the city’s older residents and asks them if they’re interested in signing up for regular phone calls, emails or texts from the police department to see how they’re doing.
Since the program’s origins in October 2014, Pfau has expanded the service to 118 participants.
He said most participants sign up for monthly phone calls. If he can’t reach them, he will then try a primary contact and if they don’t know how the senior is doing he’ll call a secondary contact. If neither contact has heard from the senior citizen Pfau is trying to reach, the police department sends an officer to the home.
Police Chief Tracy Aaron said the program started as a way to aid the city’s senior community, especially those who may have family across town or farther away.
Police Sgt. Daniel Sherwin said most of the time the contacts let the police know if a person is on vacation or away from the home and they haven’t yet had to send a police officer out.
“We’re supplementing what family and friends do for the seniors,” Sherwin said.
Pfau said when he calls someone the chat can last minutes or more than an hour.
“Sometimes that’s the only conversation they’ll have for a whole day or several days,” he said. “It’s a good program in that it just makes them feel important or that somebody is caring about them.”
In addition to the scheduled check-ins, Pfau will also call seniors on their birthdays.
He talks to them about their security options and helps them learn more about the city’s ordinances. He even contacted animal control on behalf of a resident after one of the check-ins.
Aaron said another benefit of reaching out to the seniors is that the police develop a database of information including who lives in a home, if they are alone and any emergency contacts.
“This gives us that data for our patrol officers,” he said.
Aaron said he’d like to get the Police Explorers, youth who learn about what it takes to be a police officer from current officers, involved with reaching out to the seniors as well.
Pfau said his goal is to have 200 residents signed up by the end of the year and that’s a number he feels confident in.
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770
To sign up
Those interested in participating in the free Senior Wellness Check program can call police volunteer Zeno Pfau at 817-276-4724.