Senior adults, cops join to fight crime
By FLORI MEEKS
As soon as Patricia Otts gets home from her monthly Triad meetings, she's on the phone sharing the information she's gathered on staying safe and avoiding scams.
I go and tell my big sisters what I learned; pay attention to what's going on around you," the 63-year-old Pasadena resident said.
Triad's name symbolizes a relationship between three entities: a sheriff, the police chiefs in a county and senior residents.
The idea is for each party to work together to reduce the criminal victimization of seniors.
Additional goals include an increased spirit of cooperation and understanding among law enforcement agencies in the community, attention to concerns of the elderly and more seniors planning programs that meet their needs.
The national program was brought to Texas by John Cornyn, now a U.S. senator.
Triad has been operating in Harris County since 2002, and the Precinct 2 program, the organization Otts attends, has been going strong since then.
It really provides a wide variety of information for seniors," said David Stuckey, recreation coordinator for the city of Pasadena's Madison Jobe Senior Center, where Triad SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) meetings are held.
Most meetings feature a speaker with information specifically for seniors in the community.
The Precinct 2 group is co-led by Steve Coycault and center manager Barbara Sitzman and sees about 30 people per meeting.
Coycault also represents Harris County Precinct 2 in the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature a nonprofit group that provides seniors an opportunity to become directly involved in the legislative process.
He has been attending the Triad meetings from the beginning.
He said he appreciates the program's ability to protect seniors from scams, including identity theft.
People call them and say they've won a prize," Coycault said.
They give them their Social Security number, and boom, they're victims of identity theft."
During the meetings, Coycault shares monthly news alerts from the National Sheriff's Association, also a Triad participant, as well as the news he receives from Austin as a Silver-Haired Legislator.
Coycault was introduced to Triad by original
Precinct 2 coordinator Bob Scanlon, who led the group's meetings until his death in February.
Another original member, Bob Wall, continues to attend the meetings every month, Coycault said.
Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Ren Davis usually is on hand as well. She attends to answer participants' questions.
They like to ask about different topics, maybe an event in their family, if something they heard about is a scam," Davis said.
The organization also presents information on keeping a home safe and secure.
Davis helps Triad members who follow all of the suggestions get home owners' insurance discounts.
Davis said she values the opportunity to empower seniors and help them stay safe.
It's been bringing them a lot of information about what's going on out there," Davis said. They're a lot more aware; a lot more awake."
Pasadena resident Audie Ingalls has been attending meetings for six or seven years.
I have thoroughly enjoyed it," said Ingalls, 95. What it's all about is the police officers helping senior citizens.
When I hear about someone scammed out of large sums of money, if they had known what to look for, it wouldn't have happened."
Ingalls said most of the Triad members feel strongly about supporting the officers who protect them.
We owe it to the officers; they put their lives on the line every day for us," Ingalls said.
Ingalls has found her own way to help.
She has a list of people, including 22 law officers, she prays for regularly.
That's something I feel really blessed with," she said.
Deer Park resident Mary Lou Rikeman said being part of Triad always is interesting. She has heard from police chiefs and representatives from the Better Business Bureau.
It's really nice to know there's someone out there for us seniors," she said.
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