Police Department Expands Program to Help People With Autism and Alzheimer’s

Mayor Mark A. Smith announced that the Bayonne Police Department is expanding PACT (Police Autistic Community Team), an identification and assistance program that helps young adults with Autism.  PACT will now also help older residents who are experiencing the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.   The program is being renamed the Police Autistic/Alzheimer Community Team, and will still use PACT as its acronym.

Mayor Smith said, “The first job of our municipal government is to provide for the safety of Bayonne residents.  Adults of various ages who have special needs may require some extra help from the Police Department, the Fire Department, and McCabe Ambulance Service.  By expanding PACT, we can provide some extra security for people who may not be helped by existing programs.”

Public Safety Director Jason O’Donnell said, “We started the PACT Program to assist autistic young adults.  That program will continue.  We will provide the same services to older people with early signs of dementia, people who do not yet need round-the-clock care.”

Police Chief Ralph Scianni said, “People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia sometimes get lost or confused.  The PACT Program will offer their families an opportunity to register them and provide the Police Department with information, similar to what was done for autistic young adults in the past.  We are happy to provide this service to the families in our community.”

PACT provides ID cards for participants, so that they can present the cards or be identified in the event of encounters with the police and other emergency personnel.  The Police Department will maintain a database about the participants, so that their medical needs and contact information would be available in the event of emergencies.  Autistic participants range in age from 16 to 25.  There will be no specific starting age for participants with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, because the age of onset varies for those conditions. The expansion of PACT will now reach older people who are experiencing the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s, but who do not yet qualify for Project Lifesaver, a program that provides individuals with electronic tracking devices.  Now PACT will provide ID cards to older clients.  The Police Department will maintain copies of the ID photos and information about each PACT client.  If the client has an episode and is reported missing, a photo and detailed personal information will be at police headquarters, already on file.  The client will have the identification card on his or her person in case he or she is found before being reported missing.

Clients with conditions that worsen can be graduated into the Project Lifesaver Program, which means they would have a tracking device placed on their wrists.  Each tracking device emits a radio frequency signal that can be tracked up to one mile.

Family members, guardians, and caregivers can register qualifying individuals with the PACT Program.  To register someone for the PACT Program, or to learn more information, please call 201-436-5477.  If the police are unable to speak with you at the time of your call, please leave a message on the voicemail system, and an officer will return your call.