East Grand Forks gets grant to help track missing personsThe death of Anthony Kuznia, an autistic boy who went missing last month in rural East Grand Forks, has prompted the city’s police department to seek out and receive funding for tracking devices.
By: Victor Correa, Forum News Service
The death of Anthony Kuznia, an autistic boy who went missing last month in rural East Grand Forks, has prompted the city’s police department to seek out and receive funding for tracking devices.
“You know, even if we wind up using the system one time, it’ll more than pay for itself,” said Police Chief Mike Hedlund Thursday.
As part of the program, families would get bracelets that go around the wrist or ankle of family members they wish to track, typically those with autism or Alzheimer’s disease who are prone to wandering.
“We would respond to the last known location and use our tracking equipment to then to locate the person as soon as possible,” Hedlund said.
The City Council still has to approve of the grant, but police doesn’t yet know how much money they’ll get.
The tracking devices would come from Project Lifesaver, a nonprofit group working to keep safe those with conditions that lead them to wander.
The Police Department heard of the group from Alesha Coleman, a Grand Forks woman whose 5-year-old son wandered from home not long before Kuznia went missing. Coleman’s son was later found alive.
“I just want to do what I can to make sure that another family doesn’t go through this,” Coleman said.
Kuznia went missing from his grandmother’s home on Aug. 7, launching a search that, at one point, included some 490 volunteers and officials from two dozen law enforcement agencies and other groups. His body was found by the Red River on the second day of the search.
The grant came as a surprise to Coleman.
She said she’s raised more than $1,000 to help bring Project Lifesaver to the area. “By receiving this grant that frees up those funds to be used to buy the wrist units for the families directly.”
Coleman has been working closely with Kuznia’s family, and she said they want to help any way they can. “Especially Anthony’s grandmother — she wants to work very closely with this and so I told her, ‘Whenever you’re ready, just let me know.’”
The Grand Forks Police Department said it’s waiting to see how Project Lifesaver works for East Grand Forks police. So far, officials said, there have not had enough interest from parents to invest in similar technology.