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Unified Police Department Announces Autism Safety Roster

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Tim Slover

The project encourages parents of children with Autism to provide the Unified Police Department with information—like an Autistic child’s name, physical description, and known triggers. Those facts would be passed to the officers responding to an emergency. The goal is to create humane interactions between

   officers and individuals with disabilities. Jon Owen is president of the Utah Autism Coalition. He says a large percentage of children with Autism are prone to wander.  The roster could help those missing be found faster.

“When somebody goes missing it can be hard to remember, ‘Was that mole on the kid’s left cheek or the right?’ or whatever. If you can plan ahead of time,” says Owen, “this is a great way to deal with it.”

Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder says that when an officer confronts a violent individual, that officer needs to get ahead of that individual’s aggression—But in a similar encounter with someone who has special needs, Winder says just the opposite is true. With the Autism Safety Roster, officers can know ahead of time what tactics are appropriate.

“When you have an individual who is acting in a volatile or in a loud manner, but the triggering mechanism really is an underlying special need—whether it be Autism or bipolar or a number of things—actually the more calm you can be,” says Winder.

Registration forms are available at the Unified Police Department’s website. To stay current, information must be updated annually.   

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