GovBytes: Ohio Police Using Electronic Bracelets to Find Missing Persons

Police in Rocky River, Ohio, are supplying its citizens with high-tech electronic bracelets that use cell phone technology to pinpoint the wearer’s location. Rocky River’s population is nearly one third senior citizens, making them the target audience for this new technology. The bracelets are tied into the 911 system, allowing police to rapidly respond if the wearer is reported missing.

While the police department follows its usual protocol for a missing person, EMFinders will send out a signal to the bracelet. In turn, the bracelet sends a signal to the 911 operator through the Cuyahoga Emergency Communications System (CECOMS).

CECOMS then routes the signal back to the police department, which can then track down the missing person between 10 and 22 minutes.

“CECOMS has a mapping utility that we have at all our 911 stations and it actually gives us a pinpoint coordinates or where this person is,” Stillman said. The map works much like Web-based maps available on search engines. “You just zoom in and you can see exactly where they’re sitting.”

High-Tech Bracelets Locate Missing Ohio Seniors, Autistic Children

The bracelets are available to citizens free of charge, though there is a monthly activation fee. Rocky River is not the first city to adopt the tracking bracelets. In Oregon, tracking bracelets have been used to prevent gang violence by tracking the location of minors associated with gang activity.The bracelets are about the size of a wrist watch and require two people to remove the device from the wearer’s wrist.

While there are certainly benefits to being able to keep track of elderly relatives who may be starting to lose their memory, there is also something very Big Brother about tracking someone’s movements. Do the benefits of being able to find lost seniors or children outweigh the privacy concerns? Or should this sort of technology be reserved for crime-fighting?


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Colleen Ayers

I like the idea of a voluntary system that people can sign up for. I know my family would have loved something like this when my grandfather was deep into Alzheimer’s… and so would the local police, who spent countless hours looking for him whenever he wandered off!