Did police mishandle dementia situation?

April 10, 2009 4:48:15 PM PDT
She was found wandering on the streets. A cabbie picked her up and took her to a police station in Yonkers. But instead of taking her home, police put her right back in the cab. Now, the angry family is demanding answers.

At 86, Ella Toone is suffering from dementia, possibly the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. One night in March, she wandered away from her apartment, something that took her daughter by surprise.

"Her memory is getting bad and what have you, but I never thought she left the house," daughter Mary Burton said.

Toone ultimately made it home safely, but the incident has her family angry over what Yonkers police did, or allegedly, failed to do. It was 3 a.m. when an attendant saw Toone wandering near a gas station. He called a taxi, but the Toone couldn't tell him where she lived. So the driver took her to a police precinct. According to the family, officers went through Toone's bag, found her address and told the cab driver to take her home.

Back at the senior citizen complex, Toone didn't have keys. So the driver went through her bag and found an emergency contact card with Mary Burton's phone number.

"If had not been for the cab driver, I would not have been aware of this incident," Burton said. "It could have continued."

Westchester County recently began a program that gives Alzheimer's patients bracelets embedded with a GPS tracking system. But in a statement, Yonkers police acknowledge they do not have a policy, "specifically on dealing with Alzheimer's patients. Policy and procedures do not and never will cover all situations that police officers are faced with everyday."

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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