“This past summer, I experienced three incidents where we had to respond to an elderly citizen’s home. They could not get to the door and we couldn’t get into the house. If we are lucky, we can climb in through an open window. Worst case scenario, if we still can’t get to that person, we have to break the door down,” said Bristol Police Sgt. Ricardo Mourato. “The current practice can take time away from emergency personnel getting to a person in need and also cause damage to their property,” he said.
Police don’t like to have to break down doors. It’s a 15- to 20-minute process. Police try and reach relatives of the homeowner and wait for a key holder to respond, before deciding in a last-ditch effort to break a door down and help a resident who is in need of assistance. Breaking down the door can be costly for homeowners, he said.
The Bristol Fire Department offers $300 knox boxes to residents that are built into a person’s home. The box holds a key to the house and can only be opened with a master key by fire personnel in the case of an emergency.
Sgt. Mourato came up with a cheaper idea to save residents money. His idea is to use real estate lockboxes instead. A lockbox is sturdy and secure and typically fixed to a resident’s entry door and can be opened only by a code. The lockbox codes will be held at police and fire headquarters and only opened when an emergency arises.
“If an accident happens and they can’t get to their door, this is a way that we can get to them quicker, without causing damage to their home,” Sgt. Mourato said.
Lockboxes cost $30 to $40 and can be bought by residents instead of a costly knox box. Police will install the lockboxes and set the codes for the residents. Sgt. Mourato and the Bristol Police are also giving out lockboxes to residents who can’t afford them through a lockbox program that Sgt. Mourato started this fall.
“It is our intention to provide the citizens of Bristol, especially the elderly and handicapped, with the best possible service we can provide and believe that this is one more tool we can use to achieve that,” said Sgt. Mourato.
Call Bristol Police at 401-253-6900 for more information about the program.