If Orange County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ron Kesner shows up at your house, he’s probably not there to arrest anyone. He’s most likely there to make sure the house is secure and those living inside—presumably elderly—are OK.
Kesner, a longtime law enforcement officer, is the new TRIAD coordinator for the sheriff’s office.
TRIAD is a partnership between local law enforcement, senior service providers and senior citizens that aims to reduce the criminal victimization of the elderly. By working together, seniors benefit from regular contact with service providers and law enforcement officers who can help them meet a range of needs, including safety.
Kesner brings 37 years of law enforcement experience to the coordinator’s role, which traditionally had been filled by a civilian.
“As a certified officer, that brings a new dimension,” he explained. “When I’m out speaking to groups or meeting with people, I’m not just representing TRIAD, but the sheriff’s office. If someone has a law enforcement question, I can answer it. I don’t have to go back and ask someone.”
While the role is new to Kesner, community outreach and working with older citizens are not. During his time in the Albemarle County Police Department, Kesner participated in a community policing initiative where his church’s bluegrass band would perform for local senior groups. “We’d go play music for a while, and then I’d give a talk on a safety topic,” he said. “Then, we’d wrap up with more music. It was great.”
As for his plans for the Orange program, Kesner cited the traditional offerings TRIAD has provided for local seniors: “file of life” kits, Project Lifesaver, emergency preparedness and Guardian Alert 911 pendants, among others.
“The Project Lifesaver program is very important,” he said, “as it helps track those with dementia and Alzheimer’s or who otherwise are at-risk to wander away from home.”
Those likely to wander have transmitters that send signals allowing deputies to find them before they come to harm. The transmitters cost $375 apiece and are funded through donations to the program, Kesner said. Still, he noted, anyone who needs one can get one—regardless of the capacity to pay.
The Guardian Alert pendants help those with health issues, many who live alone. Participants are issued a pendant kit that helps those who fall or otherwise need assistance contact 911 immediately. The kit includes extra batteries and a real estate lock on the home where emergency service officials can access the participant’s home if the doors are locked.
“Anyone who needs this equipment will get it,” Kesner assured. “We ask participants to make a donation to help cover the costs, but if they can’t we will still get it for them. Sheriff [Mark] Amos feels this is too important for the safety of our citizens and doesn’t want ability to pay to stand in the way of it. That being said, we still appreciate any and all donations.”
Those are the plans that are in place, but what’s next for the program?
Kesner has two initiatives he’s working on.
“I look over the call sheet dispatch sends out and look to see if any involve senior citizens,” he said. “Depending on the nature of the call, I consider whether or not it would need a follow-up.”
Patrol deputies are busy, he noted, and may not have time to zero in on some of the unseen issues senior citizens may be facing. That’s where Kesner can help. He can circle back to the citizens who called and determine whether or not he should contact social services or another agency or provider to address any issues he may find.
Another new offering of the program, he said, will be crime prevention surveys. Senior citizens can call him to assess the safety of their homes. “I’ll do a security survey of their residence to determine what they might do to make it safer,” he said. “It could be installing lights, trimming bushes and hedges or adding locks. I’ll be looking for ways they can crime-proof their homes.
In the meantime, he’s offering to speak to any organization interested in learning more about TRIAD, scams, fraud, senior safety or crime prevention. “We want to reach out to all areas of the county—not just the population centers,” he said. “We want to be out in the community.”
In addition to the programmatic message, Kesner also believes he has a personal message to share. “I’ve been through a lot of these issues with my own mother and father,” he said. “I know what families are facing and believe I can help guide them through my own experience. There are a lot of families out there with a range of circumstances. We’re here to help those families and their aging members in any way we can. Don’t be afraid to call.”
Deputy Ron Kesner can be reached at the TRIAD office at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office at 672-1536. His email is rkesner@
Seeking S.A.L.T. Council members
TRIAD is advised by a S.A.L.T. Council (Seniors And Law enforcement Together) that meets the second Thursday of every other month at 9:30 a.m. in the Town of Orange Public Works building on Warren Street. (Meetings for 2019 are scheduled May 23, July 11, Sept. 12 and Nov. 14.)
Anyone who wants to be involved in helping senior citizens in the community is invited to attend. The council is comprised of volunteers.
“I’m asking anyone who wants to be involved to join us,” Kesner said. “Churches, civic groups, senior groups … it doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are, if you’re interested in issues that affect seniors, and want to advocate for their wellbeing, we’d like you to be on the S.A.L.T. Council,” he said.