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Police step up to protect residents during cold wave

Feb. 05, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

The Kenova Police Department added a different twist to its mission of protecting the public's safety last month.

Besides focusing on battling crime, which of course is one of its most important duties, the department also turned its attention to helping the public avoid another threat: the frigid cold.

With wind chills well below zero on several days, the department began compiling a list of people who might be particularly vulnerable to the potentially deadly temperatures. That included the elderly, disabled or ill people who might not have someone else to look after them.

Then the department's officers checked on those residents' well-being. "We're making sure they've got water, heat -- basic necessities," said Ray Mossman, Kenova's police chief.

The chief credited Mayor Ric Griffith with the idea after city employees helped a disabled woman thaw her frozen pipes and provided her with bottled water during the first wave of cold weather that hit the region in January.

The department also got plenty of help from the community, with people suggesting several names of people to check on and volunteering to help with the program. "People are certainly willing to help us," Mossman said. 'We're going to coordinate with church groups and work with some Wayne County agencies that may know some people, and we can all work together."

The blueprint for being alert to the needs of vulnerable people will be useful during other cold waves, as well as during periods of extreme heat. Communities without such a program in place might want to think about adopting the idea.

The Kenova department's caring approach also serves as a reminder to all of us: Look out for our neighbors, particularly during times when they face added challenges.



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