Frequently Asked Questions
Triad is not an acronym. It represents a group of three, or the three sectors of a community that partner to keep older adults safe from crime: public safety, criminal justice, and the older adult community.
Triad has two objectives, to reduce crime against older adults, and to reduce the fear of crime that older adults often experience.
Triad is the concept of partnering for the safety of older adults. Once a Triad is formed, a SALT Council is created, which is a group of community representatives who implement programs and activities to achieve the objectives.
A SALT Council is a group of community representatives—similar to a PTA—who comes together to design and implement programs and activities intended to make older adults in the community safer. SALT stands for “Seniors and Law Enforcement Together.”
Usually, the Triad is formed at the county level and a SALT Council is established. Then individual communities within the county (cities, towns, municipalities, or villages) appoint representatives to the SALT Council so that every community in the county is represented.
Sometimes, once the county Triad is formed, individual towns or cities within the county form their own SALT Council under the county Triad umbrella. This model helps ensure that the specific crime needs of each community are met. For example, Brown County leaders sign a Triad agreement along with the police chiefs of the three incorporated cities within the county. Next, a SALT Council is formed for the county, and one SALT Council is formed in each of the three incorporated cities within the county.
The greatest advantage to having multiple SALT Councils in a county is that more older adult volunteers become active in the Triad. In addition to having 10-20 volunteers active in the county Triad, each smaller Triad also has 10-20 volunteers.
Since Triad’s basic goal is to reduce crime against older adults, you should first contact law enforcement leaders in your community. These could be the county sheriff or city or town police chief. Ascertain if they are interested in leading the effort to create a Triad.
Law enforcement leaders face many challenges every day, from crime enforcement and dealing with traffic congestion to abating nuisances and ensuring homeland security. Your local law enforcement leaders may not be familiar with a Triad style of community policing, so your first job might be to explain the concept.
Virtually every law enforcement leader embraces community policing. And, all of them strive to protect their citizens from crime, especially the older adults. However, some leaders have competing demands on resources. Others are in communities with low crime rates and the leadership may not feel it is necessary to dedicate resources to one group or another. But Triad can do more than just combat crime. Sometimes forming a Triad enhances a community’s reputation just by exhibiting a commitment to a vulnerable segment of the population.
The next step is to have a Triad signing, wherein the leaders publicly sign a document expressing their commitment to partner to keep older adults safe. This is the called the Triad Agreement.
The Triad Implementation Handbook is available as a PDF file on this website under Triad Tools. It is a comprehensive “how-to” guide for starting and running a Triad. First, you should read the guide, and if possible, contact others in your state or region who have started Triads to discuss their experiences.
First, the leadership in a given community that is responsible for contributing to the crime safety of seniors needs to be contacted. This usually involves about 3-6 people, such as the police chief, the county sheriff, the president of the local AARP or RSVP chapter, the Director of the Office on Aging (or its counterpart), the Fire Chief, and the local prosecutor or DA.
The leadership in a given community that is responsible for contributing to the crime safety of older adults should be included. This usually involves about 3-6 people. Remember that Triad is a partnership amongst law enforcement, older adults, and criminal justice. The county sheriff and the city/town police chiefs within your county should be your first contacts. Next, the director of the county’s aging office or its equivalent is equally important, as is the director of the county’s primary senior volunteer organization, such as AARP or RSVP. Other important positions to consider would be the county or city fire chief, directors of older adult centers, and whoever prosecutes crimes committed in your area (i.e., the district, state, or county attorney).
The Triad Agreement is the formal and public declaration that the signing organizations support the concept of partnering to help keep older adults safe in the community. It establishes the commitment of the agencies.
Usually, the agreement has 3-6 signers, people who are heads of agencies and organizations whose duties include older adults, crime prevention or reduction, and community services.
Examples of signers for a countywide Triad would be the sheriff, each police chief within the jurisdiction, the head of the county’s aging services, the head of AARP or RSVP (whichever is active in the community), and the county fire chief. Signers vary by community but should include at least several of these leaders.
Triad is the concept of partnership. It is based on a group of three—public safety, criminal justice, and the older adult community—coming together to help keep older adults safe from crime. SALT is an acronym that stands for “Seniors and Law Enforcement Together.” The SALT Council is the working arm of the Triad, much like a PTA.
Most SALT Councils are made up of between 10 and 20 members who represent agencies and organizations whose duty and mission is to serve the community’s older adults.
At a minimum, each agency and organization that signed the Triad Agreement should have a representative on the SALT Council. Other members should represent agencies whose duties sometimes involve older adults, or safety, such as disaster relief and emergency preparedness agencies, businesses whose primary customers are older adults, and the like. As important, the best SALT Councils have a significant number of older adult volunteers, usually making up about half the council’s members.
Ideally, yes. The most effective Triads have written by-laws, which include language setting out the various positions. Usually this includes a president or coordinator, a vice chair, a secretary and a treasurer. Some councils have chaired sub-committees.
Ideally, the council should meet monthly. Many Triads suspend their meetings over the winter holidays and in August, as many people are away.
SALT Council activities fall into two general categories, programs and activities. Programs are more formal and usually longer-term undertakings, such as an RUOK Program, wherein Triad volunteers call older adult shut-ins each day to ascertain if they are okay. Activities are often one-time events, such as mailing a postcard to older adults announcing the passage of a law that affects them.
The SALT Council should conduct a Triad Survey, which, as the name implies, is a process of asking the older adult community what its needs and concerns are. In some cases, older adult fears are inconsistent with crime trends in the community. What sometimes happens is that isolated crime stories appear in the news and instill fear. But the reality may be that the type of crime reported in not likely to occur in the Triad community. The Triad Survey will help the SALT Council determine what kinds of programs and activities to run.
The survey should be designed to capture the types of crime older adults fear and their concerns. True community policing requires law enforcement to listen to the voice of the community, and this survey is a positive step in that direction.
The Triad Survey will probably become the basis for designing and implementing programs and activities, so it is important that some thought go into its design, distribution, and collection. The survey need not be overly formal, but it does need to capture crime-related attitudes and concerns. Some attention to victimization is useful. For example: Have you ever been a victim of a crime while living in this community? Do you stay indoors because you’re afraid to go out?
You will first need to identify where the older adults in your community live. The local office on aging can help with this, as can the older adult center. Blank surveys can be left there, mailed to each home where an older adult lives, distributed through Meals-on-Wheels, older adult transport programs, and the like.
Once completed surveys are collected, the SALT Council, or its designated sub-committee, should read them and determine what the needs of the community’s older adults are. Keep in mind that sometimes what the older adult community is concerned about may not be a threat at all. Popular media has, on occasion, erroneously convinced the public of a threat that is not real.
The appendix of the Triad Implementation Handbook contains a sample survey. This text is not copyrighted, so you are free to copy at will.