February 11, 2005
Police and firefighters can use keys instead of breaking down doors to assist residents, thanks to a new lockbox program.
Lockboxes enable officers or firefighters to get inside homes of elderly or disabled Scottsdale residents who may be unable to open doors because of illness or injury.
The lockboxes are similar to those put on doors of houses that are for sale. Officers and firefighters use a combination to open the lockbox and get a key, which they can use to open the door. Officers and firefighters get information about the location of the lockbox and the combination when they get their calls.
"The tamper-proof lockboxes are a HUUUUUGE benefit to disabled seniors. . . .," a 72-year-old woman wrote to the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors. "I’ve lost track of the old ladies that have cried in my presence about their fears of dying alone because they don’t believe they will be able to unlock their door during a heart attack and/or stroke."
Grants from real estate agents’ groups have funded the lockboxes, said Sue Barnes of the association. The group hopes to expand the lockbox program to other Valley municipalities, she said.
Lockboxes cost $25 each. Lowincome people can get them free.
Cmdr. David Marshall said he’s aware of one snag since the program began in October. Officers broke a window to get into a home in December because the lockbox combination hadn’t been entered into the computer system used by emergency responders.
Officer Dan Jensen said he responded to a call three weeks ago for an elderly man in south Scottsdale who had a lockbox. The man was found dead of natural causes.
Without the lockbox, the man’s family would have to worry about securing the home and paying for damage caused by emergency responders. Residents generally have to pay for the damage. Police estimate about 100 homes have lockboxes. The next distribution will be Feb. 19. For information, call (480) 688-0550 or (480) 860-4309.