Smith: without Scottsdale police we may have lost beloved family member

My brother-in-law Don is an amazing man. He grew up right here in Phoenix, attending Central High School.

Rose Smith

He served our country honorably with the US Army Airborne. He is one of St. Joseph Hospital’s super stars after having successfully thrived following a double lung transplant several years ago. Most of all he is a beloved member of our large Italian family.

At 75, Don suffers from occasional dementia. He no longer drives. On the evening of May 15, Don found a spare set of keys and made a decision to surprise his wife by picking up dinner for her when she returned from an evening meeting. And so, began Don’s interstate adventure.

Thanks to the city of Scottsdale and the amazing resources of the Arizona Silver Alert System, our beloved Don was found in Burbank, Calif. and brought safely home. The Scottsdale Police Department responded to the first call from my sister in less than 10 minutes.

Two years earlier, Don had a similar adventure and SPD dispatched the same detective who was on that case. The consistency in dispatching familiar responders provided a sense of trust to our frazzled family and says a lot about the retention of good staff within the SPD.

Det. Brady Baily was assigned to Don’s case. His clear communication and frequent calls to provide updates were reassuring to our family that SPD was being proactive in determining where Don may have gone.

A credit card hit in Wikiup at 3:45 a.m. showed he was on the move outside the metropolitan Phoenix area. Det. Baily was able to request video surveillance from that gas station to determine that the user was actually Don, and that it wasn’t a case of stolen vehicle.

The next hit came through on a police scan in 29 Palms. This hit in California allowed the search to be extended across the state line. Although there is not a “silver alert system” in California, Scottsdale police made sure that our case would be put on California polide alerts.

Don kept going, running out of gas in Burbank, Calif. A kind motorcycle officer stopped to offer a gallon of gas and scanning the plate, was able to determine that Don was in trouble. Calling for backup to drive Don’s pick-up, the officer notified SPD that our family member was found and safe.

LAPD treated Don with respect and kindness, transporting him to a hospital for observation, where his grandson was able to collect him and drive him back home. Our own Det. Baily oversaw the entire process from ground zero to Don’s successful return home.

This letter is to share not only our experience but our gratitude to the public service agencies involved and to testify that the Arizona Silver Alert System is a model program which should be implemented nationwide.

When citizens invest in public service, they are served. When we stop serving our nation’s neediest- our elderly and our children- we lose sight of what we should value as a society.

Editor’s note: Ms. Smith is a resident of Scottsdale

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