In April of 2016, during Autism Awareness Month, members of the Cranston Police Department were trained to recognize autism symptoms and how to interact successfully with people who are on the autism …
In April of 2016, during Autism Awareness Month, members of the Cranston Police Department were trained to recognize autism symptoms and how to interact successfully with people who are on the autism spectrum. A registry was established to alert first responders if summoned to any call involving someone with autism. The Cranston Police and the Cranston School Department collectively implemented a program that identifies homes of children with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities.
According to a 2021 United States Center for Disease Control study, 1 in 44 children are on the autism spectrum. Statistics indicate that persons with autism are likely to have up to seven times more contact with law enforcement agencies during their lifetimes, yet only 20 percent of those police responses related to individuals with autism involve criminal activity.
On May 13, the Cranston Police Department introduced two additional tools to build upon this autism program and also help identify other special populations.
The first was an interactive Autism Spectrum Registry flyer – highlighting information and statistics about autism and the program, links to valuable resources and registration forms and a QR code to the department’s website.
The second is the acquisition of a portable ID machine that will be used to create autism, Alzheimer's, dementia and lost child IDs. These IDs will include a photo of the person, description, emergency contact(s) and any other pertinent information a first responder may need when encountering an autistic person, Alzheimer's patient, a person with dementia or a lost child. The funding for the ID machine was provided by Comprehensive Community Action Plan (CCAP), which has been a long-standing partner with the Cranston Police and advocate for the community.
This program aims to alert officers of potential interactions with children with autism, Alzheimer and dementia patients and to help locate lost or missing children. Providing Officers with access to this information enhances the public's safety and leads to positive interactions. Parents wishing to participate in the autism registry can start by filling out a form on the Cranston Police Department website http://www.cranstonpoliceri.com/AutismandID/. Forms can also be picked up in person at the Cranston Police Department. Forms are also distributed to parents at Cranston Public Schools. Information will be kept confidential and not be shared outside the city. If you would like to obtain identification for children or seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, please contact Sergeant Gregg Weller, Office of Community Outreach, at 477-5135.
The department encourages the public to take advantage of these new tools, which can be found at the Cranston Police Department and out in the community at our various community events.
"By issuing identification cards and providing our officers with basic information about how to best approach and communicate with someone with autism, dementia or Alzheimer's in an emergency or non-emergency situation, we will be better equipped to use our training and resolve a situation peacefully. I want to thank CCAP and the Cranston School Department for their continued partnership with the Cranston Police," said Colonel Michael Winquist.
"Our long-standing partnership with the Cranston Police helps us build positive relationships in our community. With this program, we know the police and families have engaged in communications related to the safety of families and officers." said Jeannine Nota Masse, Superintendent of the Cranston Public School.
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