Sheriff’s Office recognizes Autism Awareness | RecordCourier.com

Sheriff’s Office recognizes Autism Awareness

by Bernadette Smith
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Brody and Blake Blosser with Sgt. Will Lynch and Deputy Joel Kruger and K-9 deputy Bak

In honor of Autism Awareness month, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office will display blue ribbons on their patrol car antennas for the month of April to actively participate in increasing Autism Awareness in the community. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

"Law enforcement is usually the first to respond to an emergency, and it is critical that officers have a working knowledge of autism, and the wide variety of behaviors that individuals with autism can exhibit in emergency situations," said Undersheriff Paul Howell. "We felt it was important to launch this program so we can make every effort to respond to these unique emergencies, using best practices and sound protocols."

This past year, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office received specialized training in how to effectively interact with individuals with autism. This will allow a safer and less stressful encounter for the individual with ASD, the community and first responders. The training was provided by the JUSTinHope Foundation in Reno.

Family members and/or caregivers can register individuals with autism with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. The registration form will include a photo, physical description, emergency contact and any information that would assist officers in locating a missing ASD individual, or with de-escalation techniques. Officers can access this information in their dispatch system.

The information will assist officers with early recognition, parent/guardian reunification and overall safety. In addition, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office will provide an identification card that people with autism can present during a law enforcement encounter. The ID card will identify the individual with autism and include their contact information.

The goals of the program are to establish relationship with those on the autism spectrum, their family members and caregivers. An active partnership will assist in reducing the anxiety that those with ASD can experience when dealing with law enforcement. The program will also assist law enforcement awareness and response to those with autism.

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If you would like to enroll in this program, contact Investigator Nadine Chrzanowski to set up an appointment to register at 782-9909 or through email nchrzanowski@douglasnv.us For information visit https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html or justinhope.org.