Sheriff's Office to Continue Deerfield's Unfunded `Are You O.K.?' Program
When it was time for the Broward Sheriff’s Office discussion of crime at Commissioner Richard Rosenzweig’s District 3 meeting in Century Village Tuesday, Robert Schnakenberg, chief of the Deerfield Beach substation, kept it brief.
“There is none,” he told about 40 Century Village residents gathered in the community’s massive club house. “No cases for the last three months.”
Instead, the man who vowed to focus on community outreach extended that hand a little further. He announced that in the tightest budget year in recent memory, a program at risk of being cut – one valuable to elderly residents living alone -- would continue, even without grant money to fund it.
“As of yesterday,” he said Tuesday, “As of yesterday -- “Are You O.K”. is still going.”
A program developed for people living alone and far away from family, it provides a chance to register for a telephone call Monday through Friday. Failure to answer means two individuals show up at the house for a welfare check, or BSO sends an officer to the door.
“We have become the sons and daughters who are out of state,” Schnakenberg said. “We call you every day to make sure you are o.k.”
Until this year, the program was a free service thanks to a joint venture between the Broward Sheriff’s Office and North Broward Hospital District. The computerized call rings through at about 7:45 a.m. and once it is answered, a message instructs them to hang up.
“Unfortunately, the grant expired,” Schnakenberg said. “But Sheriff Scott Israel is picking up the program for the county and the city.”
As Schnakenberg explained it, existing employees will handle the calls.
“The only disadvantage is that on Saturday and Sunday, you are on your own,” he said.