Portage police, volunteers host seniors for Halloween

October 25, 2017 GMT

In the spirit of Halloween fun for all ages, the Portage Police Department is hosting a Senior Safe Night Out.

The annual program, held at the Portage City Municipal Building, will open with a social hour at 3 p.m. Saturday followed by bingo, a chili/soup and sandwich dinner, music and costume contest awards. Country music will be provided by one-man-band Jeff Shaw.

Tickets cost $5 and are available at the Portage Police Department.

The Senior Safe Night Out will provide a drop-off point for the Portage Police Department’s Drug Take Back, in which visitors can safely dispose of extra or expired medication.

The program is presented by the Portage Police Department in coordination with Seniors and Law Enforcement Together, which supports The Right Information And Direction (TRIAD) to reduce criminal victimization of the elderly.

“Each community does it differently and they all have their own programs,” said Dane County TRIAD organizer Mary Stamstad.

She said the recent Madison TRIAD Conference had about 200 participants, including representatives from the 20 statewide TRIAD organizations that are supported by the National Sheriffs’ Association.

“At these large conferences, a lot of the participants are people who work with older people who don’t understand,” Stamstad said, listing concerns including bullying, safe use and disposal of prescription opioids, and “just being taken advantage of.”

Stamstad was introduced to TRIAD in 1998 as the director of the volunteer group RSVP Dane County and is familiar with Portage’s history with the program.

“Portage was one of the first and (Portage Police Lt.) Penny Kiefer was really involved,” Stamstad said.

Since Kiefer retired in 2016, the role of department liaison has been taken up by Officer Teresa Johnson and Community Service Officer Jerilyn Jerome Scott.

TRIAD has lost some branches throughout Wisconsin, Stamstad said, making regional conferences valuable to work toward outreach and retention and development of new programs.

“The idea is to work for that area,” Stamstad said. “So we do surveys to try to find out what people are interested in.”

At the most recent conference, the topic that had the strongest response, according to Stamstad, was fraud prevention, which has been an ongoing challenge for departments seeking to protect seniors from scams.