Tallahassee, Florida (Oct. 24, 2022) – Orange, Jacksonville, Highlands, Lafayette, and Flagler Counties have been named as the five new Florida Sheriff’s Offices to receive Missing Person Response Protocol training, Scent Discriminate K9 training, and Scent Kit program resources through the highly successful Bringing The Lost Home Program legislative bill. The Bringing The Lost Home Program bill was sponsored by Florida House Representative, Scott Plakon, and signed into law by Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, in June 2022. Scent Evidence K9 CEO, Paul Coley, and The Alzheimer’s Project CEO, John Trombetta, partnered to introduce the bill in 2019 to help law enforcement responders better serve their populations with Alzheimer’s/Related Dementia and autism who are at high risk of wandering and going missing. The Bringing The Lost Home Program enhances missing person response capabilities and recovery success by raising missing person awareness, mitigating risk, and improving search performance through the use of scent trailing recognition assessments, K-9 and Handler training, and scent collection technology.
In 2022 -2023, the Bringing The Lost Home Program will be implemented in Orange, Jacksonville, Highlands, Lafayette, and Flagler Counties and will enable the Sheriff’s Offices to introduce and maintain a proven and effective missing person response and location program for populations with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, autism, and other cognitive disabilities who are at high risk of wandering. Past participants have used the project resources to find 159 missing persons in Florida in the last 3 years and have protected thousands of Floridians who are in high-risk wandering groups by distributing Scent Preservation Kits and raising missing person awareness in their communities. The program is focused on recovering individuals who have the propensity to wander or elope with a rapid search response and recovery. The bill provides Scent Preservation Kits® or “Scent Kits” to families with loved ones living with Alzheimer’s Disease or related dementia (ADRD), and autism.
The Alzheimer’s Project will identify groups and areas in need of services and will help educate community residents about the Scent Kits and Missing Person Awareness for at-risk groups. The bill also includes Missing Person Response Protocol and Scent Discriminate K-9 Training conducted by Scent Evidence K9 CEO, Paul Coley for the participating agencies. The training impacts law enforcement response capabilities by increasing search success and decreasing the time and resources needed to find missing persons and bring them home safe. The Bringing The Lost Home Program was introduced in Florida in 2019 and has been previously implemented in 13 Florida Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments. (Bay, Sumter, St. Johns, Lee, Marion, Franklin, Seminole, Escambia, Putnam, Charlotte, DeSoto, and Nassau Counties, and the Tallahassee Police Dept.) K9 Teams who have received the training have seen a dramatic increase in their search capabilities with many handlers having multiple life-saving K9 locations within a few days of completing the training. Their success numbers continue to climb and the number of K9 finds reached 159, as of October 2022.
Protecting and Recovering People At Risk of Wandering
Florida has the second-largest Alzheimer’s Disease population in the U.S. with over 580,000 residents living with the disease. That number is projected to climb to 720,000 by 2025. Studies show that 60% or 3 of every 5 persons with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia will wander and go missing. The numbers are almost as high for children with autism. The American Pediatric Association states that 50% of those with children with autism will wander/elope and go missing at least once before age 17. Scent Evidence K9 CEO, Paul Coley has made it his company’s mission to not only improve missing person response capabilities for communities but to protect individuals before they go missing. Coley created The Scent Preservation Kit® or “Scent Kit” to give families and caregivers an effective tool to pre-collect a person’s scent before they go missing and provide responders with an uncontaminated scent article.
Sheriff’s Offices in Orange, Jacksonville, Highlands, Lafayette, and Flagler Counties, have already begun receiving their first deliveries of the Scent Preservation Kits for distribution. The kits are easy to use and it only takes a few minutes to SWIPE, SEAL, and STORE a person’s unique scent. A person simply SWIPES the included sterile gauze pad repeatedly around the underarm area and places the pad in a specially-treated evidence-grade jar. The jar is then SEALED, labeled, and STORED in a safe place in their home or care facility until needed. If a person has wandered or goes missing, a family member or caregiver presents the Scent Kit to emergency responders. This allows responders to begin searching immediately using the best possible scent source. “Having a pre-collected scent article ready for responders before a person goes missing is much more effective than using an article of clothing or a personal household item that may have been handled previously by others. The Scent Kit gives K-9 responders a head start which can save a person’s life,” said Coley. The Scent Kit® can last up to 10 years. The Scent Kit also contains an Individual Preparedness Plan Flash Drive to store important identification information and trauma-informed care information like triggers that can agitate a confused person and comforters that can calm them when they are located. “Having the information prepared in advance before a crisis occurs gives responders the most accurate identification details when they begin searching,” said Coley. The Individual Preparedness Plan also contains Missing Person Reporting Guidelines that help families and caregivers act fast when a person is missing. Scent Kits can be obtained by family members and caregivers by contacting their participating Bringing The Lost Home Program Sheriff’s Office.
Missing Person Response Protocol and Scent Discriminate K-9 Trailing Training
In addition to utilizing Scent Kits® that increase missing person awareness for at-risk populations, the Bringing The Lost Home Program also includes training to improve agency missing person search response and performance and K-9 Unit trailing capabilities for the participating agencies. Coley, a former FBI Forensic Canine Operations Specialist, will conduct the Missing Person Response Protocol and Human Scent Discriminate K9 Trailing training for handlers and investigators in each agency.
Coley’s Missing Person Response Protocol is producing successful results for law enforcement responders and K9 search and rescue teams and is endorsed by the Florida State University Emergency Management and Homeland Security Department. Coley and Scent Evidence K9 will also conduct Human Scent Discriminate K9 Trailing Training for the participating agency K-9 Teams and responders. Coley has developed an effective system of standardized scent discriminate trailing techniques and scent collection methods and technology that are producing higher success rates than traditional K9 tracking practices. “We are seeing over 90% confirmed trail results using our program. It’s making a difference in creating safer communities and saving lives,” said Coley.
Bringing The Lost Home Scent Summit
Scent Evidence K9 and The Alzheimer’s Project, Inc. also host the annual Bringing The Lost Home Scent Summit in Tallahassee. The networking and training event is attended by top-performing handlers and K9s from past and present Bringing The Lost Home participating agencies. The K9 teams have a chance to connect with community leaders from agencies like The Florida Dept. of Elder Affairs, The Alzheimer’s Project, Tallahassee Memorial Memory Disorder Clinic, and the Hang Tough Foundation who communicate needs and recognize the lifesaving work by the K9 Teams. “We are celebrating our 10th year of service in training agency responders and working with community organizations to find missing persons and bring them home safe. To see the search performance results increase with every year and to create opportunities for responders throughout Florida to share best practices and grow their abilities to keep their community safe is the ultimate goal of the Summit,” stated Coley.
©2022 The Scent Preservation Kit® and all included instructions/checklist materials, M77® Human Scent Discriminate K9 Training Program, and Missing Person Response Protocol® are registered properties of Scent Evidence K9, LLC