By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City police officers want to check up on you and your house. Really, they do. In a good way.
The police department is encouraging residents and property owners to join two free programs that will help give them peace of mind.
The first, known as “citizen call check,” allows police to make sure that senior citizens, people with disabilities or people with special needs who live alone are doing well throughout the day.
“It ensures that at least once during a 24-hour cycle that they can let someone know they’re OK,” Sea Isle Police Chief Tom McQuillen said.
Each morning, the person who lives alone is supposed to call the police dispatcher to check in. If police don’t hear from them by noon, a patrol car is sent to the person’s home. Police will then knock on the door.
If there is no answer, police will call the relatives or friends who are listed as the primary contacts for the person living alone.
“It takes the pressure off the immediate family member to make contact every day with a loved one. It fills the gap,” McQuillen explained.
Only three people are currently enrolled in the citizen call check program, McQuillen said. He wants the number to increase, particularly in a resort town that has a heavy population of retirees and senior citizens.
“It’s a great program. It’s free. There’s no long-term commitment,” McQuillen said, adding that people can easily withdraw from the program if they don’t want to continue with it.
To sign up, go to Sea Isle’s website at http://www.sea-isle-city.nj.us/ and click on the “forms” tab at the top right hand corner. Then scroll down to the police department section and click on the “C.C.C. Questionnaire Form.” Forms are turned in at police headquarters at City Hall.
Meanwhile, with the other free program, police can keep an eye on vacation homes that are empty during the offseason. Year-round residents can also sign up to have police check their homes when they’re away for a maximum of 21 days, such as on a vacation or a hospital stay.
“They know they have someone keeping an eye on their property when they’re away,” McQuillen said.
For someone who plans to be away for an extended period, they must notify police at least two weeks in advance.
McQuillen explained that the house checks are a way to protect vacant properties from burglaries and such things as fire or broken pipes.
Forms to enroll in the property check program can be found at http://www.sea-isle-city.nj.us/. Click on the “forms” tab, go to the police department section and then click on “Sea Isle City vacant house application.”
McQuillen is also urging homeowners and business owners to enroll in another free program, called the “civilian camera program.”
The police department is building a registry of homes and businesses that have video surveillance systems. That way, if a crime, accident or some other emergency occurs near those homes or businesses, police would be able to check the surveillance footage to assist them with an investigation.
“We have had serious crimes that were solved with the help of this program,” McQuillen said.
With the growing popularity of surveillance systems at homes and businesses, police hope to take advantage of the trend as a crime-fighting tool.
Only a handful of homeowners and business owners have enrolled in the surveillance camera program so far. McQuillen is looking for more to join. The program is voluntary.
“It’s an extension of the police and public partnership,” McQuillen said. “We can’t do everything alone. We need the public’s assistance.”
To enroll in the program, visit http://www.sea-isle-city.nj.us/ and go to the “forms” tab. Scroll down to the police department section and then click on “Sea Isle City civilian cam registration form.”