‘Tugs at my heart,’ Surfside Beach police to start senior check-in program

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Surfside Beach Police Department plans to start a “Senior Citizens Check-In Program” by the end of the year.

Police Chief Kenneth Hofmann said seniors have begun the process of signing up to be a part of the program and each person can choose how often they would like to be checked on.

“That’s very important to this town,” said Steve Shore, Chairman of the Ralph Magliette Senior Citizens Committee. He said the town is made up of a large population of retirees and some of them don’t have nearby family or friends.

“We look for ways to improve the quality of life of the seniors living here,” Shore said about the committee. “There are a lot of shut-ins that people don’t realize.”

Hofmann remembers a time when a town resident fell and was on the floor for days before anyone knew he was hurt.

“Somebody could need help and we don’t know it,” said Hofmann. “And that kind of tugs at my heart.”

The check-in program will be part of the town’s new Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system.

“Which, thankfully, has this type of feature and it’s a reminder feature so this will actually kick up periodically on the dispatchers’ screen to say, ‘Hey it’s time to call and check on this person,’” added Hofmann.

Senior Communications Officer Tanika Parson works in the dispatch center and has been informally checking in with residents for years.

“It’s kind of dear to my heart,” said Parson. “I’ve gotten to know them over the years I’ve been here so there are some I’ll call and check on them and see how they’re doing if I haven’t heard from them in a while.”

Hofmann said Parson’s kindness and ability to go above and beyond is what spurred the discussion to start the checks.

“What a thoughtful service,” said Hofmann. “That a lot of police departments don’t have time to do or their communications officers are too busy. But that is small town policing right there. When you have a communications team that just knows their citizens by name and periodically calls them to say, ‘How are you doing?’”

Parson said she’s excited to see it become a formal program.

“That’s just part of what I do here,” she added. “I love to just call them and make sure they’re okay and they’re appreciative of it.”

Hofmann hopes to have the program up and running by mid-December and said people will have the opportunity to sign up online, in-person or over the phone. Sign-ups started at the Senior Citizen Fair in October and will be on-going.