'No Sunglasses' Sheriff Drops Program To Do Welfare Checks On Elderly

Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker said that the program only helps a small portion of the county's population.

Wake County, NC – Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker has announced that his office will no longer operate a program aimed at helping senior citizens in his jurisdiction.

The Citizens Well-Check Program was established in 2005 by former Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison in order to help elderly people remain in their own residences as they became older, WRAL reported.

Every day at 3 p.m., senior citizens participating in the program receive an automated call from the Wake County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO).

If there is no response, the line is busy, or an answering machine picks up, the WCSO attempts a second automated call, according to the county’s website.

In the event the participant still cannot be reached, the sheriff’s office places a call to his or her emergency contacts, and if that effort fails, a deputy is dispatched to the participant’s home for a welfare check.

Approximately 100 seniors are currently participating in the program, and there is a waiting list of citizens who want to join, WRAL reported.

On Tuesday, Sheriff Baker announced that he is ending the Citizens Well-Check Program effective July 1.

"At the end of the day, the bigger picture here is serving all of Wake County and not just a handful of people," he told WRAL.

Sheriff Baker did not provide details regarding how much manpower or time the program currently requires.

Resident Robin Ingram, 84, said she was upset to learn that the program was ending, so she called the sheriff to ask him why.

"His argument is, if you can't do it for everybody, don't do it at all, which to me is a stupid argument," Ingram said.

She noted that her two sons live out-of-state, and that she uses the program as a safety net while she continues to live in her own home.

“[Without the daily check], I could be dead for a week, and no one would know," she told WRAL.

Sheriff Baker said that if someone is concerned about a family member living in Wake County, they can call the sheriff’s office for a welfare check.

Former Sheriff Harrison said that establishing the Citizens Well-Check Program was one of the proudest accomplishments of his time in office, and that he is disappointed Sheriff Baker is shutting it down.

The sheriff has been making news for banning his deputies from wearing sunglasses on duty, and announcing that he would stop issuing Tasers to deputies.

He also changed the county's pursuit policy so that deputies will be unable to initiate a pursuit of a suspect, and must ask permission from a supervisor.

David Blackwelder, who is running against Sheriff Baker in the next election, posted a copy of the memo banning sunglasses to his campaign Facebook page with the caption “misplaced priorities.”

Blackwelder, who has been a police officer with another local department for nine years, said that the edict supported one of the sheriff’s pet peeves.

“He just doesn’t agree with people wearing their sunglasses while dealing with the public. He believes that officers should look at them directly with their eyes,” he said.

That's something that deputies could still do if they were allowed to lift their glasses up on their head when talking to people. However the sheriff's policy doesn't allow for that.

“We’re cops, we’re outside, we’re going to be wearing sunglasses,” Blackwelder said. “Your sunglasses are basically part of your uniform.”

Comments (67)
No. 1-18
Officer Cynical
Officer Cynical

One more administrator that values his own twisted ideas of of PC over the safety of his men and women on the streets, and now over the the welfare of the people he's supposed to protect.

tfort
tfort

Sorry, but the sheriff is not a babysitter. Where are these people’s families? Why did they expect the county to foot the bill with daily checks on 100 people?

Get your church, neighbors, friends involved. The way it should be.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

If the community wants to do this then they should hire some social workers. This is not what police officers are for. Maybe they could move a bit of the police budget into the social work budget to make this happen. I am going to guess that social workers come considerably cheaper than popo's anyway.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

well, if @Burgers Allday and @tfort are against it, than it must be good for both law enforcement and the general public.

And apparently the newly elected sheriff doesn't think the senior citizens that live in his county are important enough to check up on, especially when their family members live IN OTHER STATES.

Darkwing219
Darkwing219

He is not saying they wont conduct welfare checks they are saying they will no longer conduct daily/hourly phone checks, the Department if contacted by a family member or friend of someone asking for a welfare check due to non communication for a period time the department will send a officer there to conduct a welfare check. Does that make it right? I do not think so I think the current system they have is fantastic and if done properly they could prob get a government grant to hire someone to continue it.