Bridgeport police launch ‘Project Lifesaver’ to track down individuals with dementia who go missing
After an eight-day ordeal in October 2020, which had Bridgeport Police searching by air and ground for a missing grandmother with Alzheimer's – the department is now implementing GPS trackers for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Teresa Zangrilli, 84, was eventually found with help from dozens of News 12 Connecticut viewers who turned out to help. She later died at a hospital.
"That was a heart-breaking case…because she had been missing for several days," said Bridgeport Police Chief Roderick Porter. "So this was the start of an idea like, what can we do?"
Porter said the tragic death of Zangrilli got him looking more seriously into a new technology called Project Lifesaver. He initially wanted to implement it around the time of Zangrilli’s passing.
The department is now giving out tracker bands to families who need them. They can be easily applied to the wrist or ankle and if the person goes missing, police will be able access the tracker to find them.
"The goal of this is to keep people safe as much as we possibly can," said Porter.
Porter launched the program on Tuesday in memory of Zangrilli who, he said, could have been saved if her family had access to Project Lifesaver.
Zangrilli's grandson said it's comforting to know other Bridgeport residents suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia will likely be saved as a result of her loss.
"We wanted to get this done. We'll be able to track them and hopefully locate them in a much more timely manner," said Porter.
To request a free Project Lifesaver tracking band, call Bridgeport Police Community Services Division at 203-581-5121 or 203-576-8278.