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Sheriff Wandering Response Program

Please call 911 immediately in case of an emergency.

Autistic individuals, people with developmental disabilities and seniors with dementia are likely to wander from their homes and other safe spaces, putting them at risk of death or injury.

The Cook County Sheriff Office’s WATR program, which stands for Wandering Aversion, Training, and Response, is intended to train family members, caregivers and social service providers on ways to limit the risk of wandering. The WATR Program serves these vulnerable individuals by:

  • Supporting families, caregivers, and social service providers of individuals that wander with resources and information that can aid in the search for and safe return of those individuals.
  • Promoting awareness of the dangers of wandering and the need for community involvement to bring about the safe return of these individuals when wandering incidents occur.

One important way the WATR Program is doing this is by providing scent kits that help canines track scents in emergency situations. These kits allow an individual’s scent to be stored for years without contamination by other environmental  factors, helping first responders search for a missing individual.

If you are interested in receiving a scent kit for a loved one or for your organization, please fill out the Scent Kit Request Form. We will contact you to coordinate pickup.

If you would like more information about the WATR Program’s services and training opportunities, please contact us at ccso.wandering@cookcountyil.gov or dial (847) 635-1188 and ask for resources on wandering.

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