Growing Safety Concerns Prompt New NYPD Senior Outreach Program

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD is looking for a man they say assaulted a 77-year-old man in broad daylight.

The victim tells CBS2 it was random and unprovoked and on Tuesday, police are launching an effort to help area seniors feel safer.

With contusions on his knees, elbow, and head, Antonio Herida has no idea why a stranger targeted him.

“He’s grabbing me to here,” he tells CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

It happened last Friday in the Bronx as Herida left a bank on Westchester Avenue near Southern Boulevard in the Bronx.

The man followed him for several blocks before approaching Herida and saying something strange.

“He told me he wanna rob the bank, I said ‘go ahead’,” Herida said.

That’s when Herida says the man struck him repeatedly. He broke his cane trying to defend himself before the man fled.

Attacks on older New Yorkers are a major concern for the city’s police department. A 90-year-old was assaulted in June, and 74-year-old Richard Scalera was attacked just last week.

“He tore my pants apart, he went at it with a vengeance until he got the wallet and then he dashed out,” Scalera told CBS2 at the time.

This week, the NYPD began holding seminars for older New Yorkers in a major new outreach program called “Senior Safe NYC.”

“When we go out as seniors, we feel we are targets,” Myna Majors said. “People target us.”

Inspector Thomas Conforti recommends always trying to go out with a neighbor or a friend.

“There’s safety in numbers,” he told a crowd of concerned seniors.

As part of the program, thousands of booklets will be handed out to help seniors be aware of dangers such as phone scams. 20,000 alert bracelets will also be distributed.

Seniors in danger can just sound the alarm.

“Chances are they’re going to run,” Chief Joanne Jaffe said. “They don’t expect this.”

CBS2’s Aiello gave one of the bracelets to Herida, who accepted with a resounding laugh — but there’s nothing funny about the dangers he and other seniors face on a daily basis.

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