Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

Chula Vista Police becomes first local law enforcement agency to use high-tech system—and offers tracking devices free

January 13, 2012 (Chula Vista) -- This week, the Chula Vista Police Department announced a new partnership with a national emergency location system known as EmFinders, a program created to enhance police response capability by greatly expediting the safe return of adults who become lost.


"Fewer than four out of every 100 adults with memory impairment who wander away from home are able to return without assistance. "If not found within the first 24 hours, half will experience serious injury or death," says Peter Reed, PhD, senior director of programs for the Alzheimer’s Association.

According to the EmFinders website, the only reliable way to rapidly locate someone who has wandered is with the assistance of E-9-1-1 and law enforcement. "Historically, law enforcement has incurred high expense to find a missing person and with the limited capabilities of existing technology. Wandering cases cost an average of $15,000 per search and traditionally require large numbers of law enforcement officials to physically span a wide geographic area in a race against the clock," the site states. "For a fraction of the cost, Emfinders has created a solution that helps find a missing person in an average of 13 minutes."

The EmFinders nationwide emergency location system works directly with emergency 911 dispatchers to greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to locate a missing person and return them safely home. Utilizing a device that is about the size of a wristwatch, the EmFinders system uses cell phone triangulation technology. If a loved one is missing or has wandered, caregivers can activate the device by first calling 911 to report the missing person and then contacting EmFinders to activate the emergency location system. Upon activation the device places a call to 911 and the 911 system determines the wearer's location. Emergency dispatchers can direct police officers to the location using the same existing E911 technology as they do every day for other wireless 911 calls.

The national EmFinders system provides an added layer of security and peace of mind for caregivers who often live in constant worry that their loved one will wander off and become lost, putting themselves in grave danger of serious injury or even death from exposure to the elements or obstacles they may encounter along the way.
The Chula Vista EmFinders Program, operated by the Senior Volunteer Patrol, supplements the existing Chula Vista Assist program in helping find adults who may wander and become lost. The Chula Vista Assist program has been in existence for over five years and has enrolled over 76 residents over that time.

The Police Department has made a limited number of EmFinders emergency location devices available to members of our community at no cost. The devices are available to adult residents that have a cognitive disability such as Autism or Alzheimer's, have a history of wandering or becoming lost, and successfully complete a brief screening for eligibility. Application to the EmFinders program may be completed by a qualifying resident, or by their caregivers or loved ones with their expressed consent, and screenings are generally completed over the phone.

Residents interested in applying for the EmFinders program may learn more at, or contact the Senior Volunteer Patrol office at (619) 476-2588. After a brief initial screening by a volunteer, qualifying residents will be invited to meet with police personnel and enroll in the EmFinders Program. Each enrollee will be provided with the free wristwatch-style emergency location device. Each enrollee will also be provided with a maximum of one year service in the EmFinders nationwide location system. Additional years of service must be paid by the enrollee or caregiver.
The EmFinders program is provided without taxpayer expense. Funding for the program is provided by the Chula Vista Police Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting the mission of the Police Department. The funding for this program would not be possible without the generosity of late police volunteer Glen A. Gilliland, who bequeathed part of his estate to the Foundation for this purpose. The Chula Vista Police Department is the first in the County to make this technology available to its community.


Error message

Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at