SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Three Scotch Plains police officers, Scott Leyden, Zach Von Langen and Jason Everitt have received commendations for going beyond the call of duty to help an elderly couple who needed help following an automobile accident.
Both of husband and wife, who have requested anonymity but wanted the officers to be recognized for their efforts. The man, a WII veteran, sustained injuries and was unable to walk, and his wife is legally blind.
When Officers Von Langen and Leyden went to the couple's house for a "wellness check," they realized that they did not have enough food in the house, nor did they have transportation because of the accident. The man and woman, both in their 90s, do not have family nearby to check on them.
"I realized that because of the accident they were not able to handle basic functions of everyday life," Officer Leyden said.
The officers stopped by periodically to see if they were comfortable. Officer Leyden bought groceries for the couple so that they could have enough to eat and took to social media to solicit the donation of a microwave to help them.
"I went on one of the Scotch Plains Facebook groups and posted it. Quickly, there were several offers, including the donation of a new microwave from a woman who read the post and went to buy one for them," Officer Leyden explained. "I wanted to make sure they had enough food until Meals-on-Wheels could be set up for them."
"Doing things like this... that's why we became police officers in the first place," Officer Von Langen added.
The officers said that neighbors have begun to check on the couple after inquiring why the police were coming to the house so often.
"These actions exemplify the values of the Scotch Plains Police Department," Chief Ted Conley told TAPintoSPF. "I requested that they receive Letters of Commendation for their efforts."
Chief Conley also asks that if anyone learns that an elderly neighbor needs assistance to please contact the New Jersey Department of Aging Services, which administers services and support to make it easier for seniors to live in the community as long as possible with independence, dignity and choice.
The agency receives federal funds under the Older Americans Act whereby it serves over 500,000 individuals. According to the 2010 U.S. Census data, New Jersey has 1.6 million individuals age 60 and older.