Township police officers were installing safety lights and lock boxes last month at the homes of residents who signed up for the Senior Watch program, created last year and in full swing.
Elderly township residents who sign up for the program can be checked frequently by police, who will visit the home if they are unable to reach the resident by phone, said Capt. Toby Meloro, who helps run the program.
The program was created after an elderly township resident died last year after being accidentally locked out of her house.
Under the senior watch program, some residents are called daily while others are called once a week, said Meloro, who helps run the program with the help of Marcie Orlando, a civilian employee of the police department.
Home visits are also being set up, Meloro said.
Between 30 and 40 residents have signed up for the program so far and are being called by a group of six volunteers, Orlando said.
If volunteers do not receive an answer when they call, they wait about 45 minutes and call back. If there is no answer the second time, an officer will check the home to make sure everything is alright.
Meloro said there is room for more residents to join up.
''I know it's a slow process, but I think we're doing pretty good,'' he said.
Residents also receive a light that flashes in case of an emergency at night to help officers find their home, as well as a key box that is attached to their door where they can keep their house keys. Police have a master key for the boxes, so they can let themselves in without smashing a door or window, Meloro said.
The program was enacted by new police Chief Richard Tisone following the death of resident Mary Rush in April of 2008. Neighbors called police after 3 a.m. to report a woman crying and screaming. Officers drove by twice but never stopped cruisers, saying they heard nothing and were given no specific place to search. Rush was found on her front porch after she accidentally locked herself out of her home.
A report on the incident by Kent State University criticized the department's response.
Tisone said he tries to promote the program whenever he can, mentioning it to community groups whenever he's asked to speak.
''We're getting the word out there,'' he said. ''We're trying to create an atmosphere where our elderly residents can feel safe.''
One of the residents enrolled in the program, Donna Chernisky, said she decided to take part because she does not want what happened to Rush to happen to her. She also said she likes having a system in place where she can be checked on if she was not in shape to call for help.
''They'll know where you are,'' Chernisky said.