Photo: Marvin Pfeiffer /Staff Photographer
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Police officer Mark Dumas knocked on the door of a Windcrest resident Friday afternoon. He had no warrant, he was not there to arrest anyone, nor was there an emergency inside the home.
Instead, Dumas stood on the porch and spoke with the elderly resident to make sure she was alright and to see if she needed anything. He talked with her a few minutes.
The city of Windcrest is expanding its senior welfare check program to include daily drop-in calls with some of its more elderly residents. Police Chief Darrell Volz said the program expansion, a relatively new offering, represents the city’s attempt to open lines of communication with elderly who may need help during the current stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Volz said he recently fielded a call from a Dallas resident, asking if the chief could have an officer drop by the residence of his elderly mother, who was practically a shut-in due to the stay-at-home order that had been in place for the past few weeks.
“He just asked if we could look in on her, to make sure she was OK, that everything was alright,” Volz said. “I thought, ‘What a great idea, we could offer this to any senior who needs it.’”
Patrol officers currently have a handful of residents they check on daily to make sure they are safe and to see if they need any essentials.
A large segment of Windcrest’s population is elderly, he said, with its fair share of widows and widowers as well.
“We’ve only got four signed up for it right now. We just recently put it out through social media, and we’re just trying to put the word out,” he said.
Volz said the department has contacted the Windcrest Lions Club and the Windcrest Women’s Club, asking them to spread the word to see if any family members, neighbors and friends might benefit from such a routine check-up.
“We’re already out there, so it’s no problem for us,” he added.
Volz said the department sends the same officers to each of the program enrollees so the residents recognize and relate to the same individual.
“It’s about building that relationship. Sometimes they just enjoy the (officer’s) visit,” the chief said. “And of course we are going to maintain our safe distancing. We don’t want to take anything to them that would be bad for them.”
Volz said the stay-at-home order has interrupted the routines of many seniors, whose primary socialization may be activity in the city’s organizations, attendance at church and shopping. These activities have been disrupted and Volz said seniors, especially the widowed, might be feeling isolated and lonely as a result.
He said he expects more people to take advantage of the program once they know it exists.
“I have not seen the sense of community anywhere else that we have here in Windcrest,” said Volz. “People look out for each other. The sense of community here is strong, and that just adds to keeping our citizens safe.”
He recommends that any Windcrest resident — or anyone in the area that has an elderly relative or friend in the city — wishing to take advantage of the senior check-up program call the department at its non-emergency number, 210-655-2666. A staff member will take the pertinent information and the department will reach out to the senior.
“We’ll give (the resident) a call and set something up, to see exactly what their needs may be, what time would be good, if they want us to stop by every day, every other day, etc.,” Volz said.
“This is just another way we can help out and make it safer and more comfortable for our fellow Windcrest residents,” he added.