Fairfield police spread awareness for tool that helps find missing people with dementia or disabilities

Police in Fairfield are raising awareness of a tool they've created to help them quickly identify and locate residents who may have a history of wandering due to dementia or other conditions.
With the help of software engineering students at Fairfield University, Sgt. Michael Stahl developed the Safe Return Network.
It's an online database in which residents can add important information and a picture of their loved ones, should they go missing.
The information includes their name address, any medications, spots they like to frequent and more. 
Stahl says he came up with the idea nearly a decade ago when he and his fellow officers encountered a non-verbal teenager with autism who had left home. He says it was difficult for them to determine who the teen was and where he lived.
"It was at that point and time that we realized there needed to be some type of system in place to help us locate these individuals who are prone to wandering for whatever reason. And help us get them back to their families," Stahl says.
The Safe Return Network was implemented in 2014 and has helped in several missing persons cases. Stahl says it was recently used to locate an elderly man.
Christy Vitale, president of the Fairfield Special Education Parent Teacher Association, has a special needs daughter and says the database means peace of mind for parents.
"While my daughter isn't a runner, my friends who do, have that constant fear of not knowing where their child is. So, knowing police have taken the time to build this program from scratch that they model for other cities and states is amazing," Vitale says.
If you live in Fairfield and have someone you'd like to add to the database, click here.