The 18th Annual TRIAD Trial Ride will be held Sunday, April 28, 2013, at the Neal Johnston Farm, Minor Hill, TN. Gates will open at 11 am, and the ride begins at 2 pm. The ride is an annual event with proceeds going toward a combined effort to protect and aid senior citizens of our community.
TRIAD is a program that was developed to reduce crime victimization of our senior citizens. Three national organizations agreed that the crime-related needs of older individuals could best be met by their cooperative effort so in 1988, the AARP, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National Sheriffs’ Association signed a cooperative agreement. This TRIAD of organizations has now evolved into all affiliated disciplines such as caregivers and first responders, who not only address crime prevention, but also post-victimization aspects such as victim and witness assistance.
Elder abuse is, unfortunately a problem in our culture, and recently we were reminded again just how vulnerable our senior population can be. Four foot, eleven inch Margaret Smith, who is 89, African American, and who is quoted after her ordeal as saying to her captors, “You got to be kind to people, if you want them to be kind to you,” was stuffed into the trunk of her car and kept there for two days.
How did she get there? She was approached by some teenage girls for a ride across town, and out of the kindness of her heart was going to take them where they “needed” to go. Instead, they kidnapped her, deprived her of food, water, and medication, and then, for some reason known only to God, finally decided to dump her out in a cemetery. It was there that she crawled out on her hands and knees. She was found by a stranger, and taken to a hospital. The five teens have been arrested, and several of them are going to be tried as adults. Thankfully, this outrageous tale has a happy ending, in that Miss Margaret lived through it and her tormentors will be brought to justice. I would like to think that perhaps the “stranger” who found her was a real live angel, as no one knows her rescuer’s identity. It is precisely this type of situation that TRIAD strives to prevent through education and community building.
Law enforcement officers and older citizens may not often have the opportunity to interact and get to know each other. The elderly may only have contact with officers when there is a problem -- not always a time for the officer or the senior to appreciate each other's fine points, and a possible time for impatience, misunderstanding and miscommunication.
When the Limestone County TRIAD was formed, active senior citizens were invited to serve in a capacity to bridge any gaps between law enforcement and seniors throughout the county. Surveys were conducted to identify seniors in need, promote crime prevention programs, and not only reduce crime, but also the perception of crime. The TRIAD soon formed their own S.A.L.T. Council, an acronym for Seniors And Lawmen Together. Each year S.A.L.T. actively participates in charitable functions and money raised during this trail ride will be used for just that purpose.
Paul Cain wears many hats in the Sheriff’s Department, and from chatting with him about this subject I know that S.A.L.T has a special place in his heart. Seniors get a chance to love and be loved, as do the officers of the law. With as many homes that have crumbled in our society, I am sure that S.A.L.T has proven to be “salt and light,” i.e. that which preserves, warms, and illuminates even more than any of us has realized.
Years ago I had the privilege to hear Christian philosopher Dr. Francis Schaefer speak, and he said something that at the time I was reticent to believe. In essence, it was that you can get a good idea of the health of a culture by examining how it takes care of its young and its elders. We have a chance in Limestone County to prove that we care about our seniors through something that is enjoyable and will serve to strengthen our community.
You do not have to ride to have fun. Many spectators will attend just to enjoy the fellowship, the scenery, and the meal afterwards. This year the organizers will be serving chicken stew and desserts furnished by S.A.L.T. members. Admission includes a meal after the ride: adults $15; children 12 and under $5; and non-riders $5.
More information and directions are available on the sheriff’s office website www.limestonesheriff.com, or by calling Sheriff Mike Blakely at 256-232-0111.
By Paul Cain, Deputy Sheriff, Limestone County Sheriff’s Department, and Ali Turner