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Douglas County Sheriff’s encourages Autism Recognition Alert Program registration

Staff Reports
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has wrapped a car with blue puzzle pieces as an inviting way for children and adults with autism to meet police officers in a casual setting.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

In honor of Autism Awareness month, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is displaying magnets on its patrol cars for the month of April as well as sporting a newly wrapped vehicle with vinyl decals to increase awareness throughout the community surrounding Autism Spectrum Disorder.

For the first time, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has wrapped a car with blue puzzle pieces as an inviting way for children and adults with autism to meet police officers in a casual setting.

This car was intended to be displayed at the Douglas County Autism Fair where parents and caretakers could register a person with autism into the Autism Recognition Alert Program. To follow new guidelines, the car will make its way around town, visiting those who are in the alert registration program for updates, and visit households who want to register a participant into the alert program. Anyone interested in a registration form should contact nchrzanowski@douglasnv.us.

Despite cancellations due to the coronavirus outbreak, the sheriff’s office is still reaching out to the community to help those who want to register for the Autism Alert Program and get photos with the car. To schedule a visit from the puzzle piece car, email mblosser@douglasnv.us with your name, available times, and if you would like, what the puzzle piece car means to you. There is limited availability due to scheduling.

Following in line with the new virtual world, the car will also be featured on Douglas County’s Facebook account via Facebook Live.

“Keep an eye out for those videos,” Blosser said.

“As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 situation, we want to keep up our planned efforts of supporting resources that would help those in the autism community,” Sheriff Coverley said. “We know that our families affected by autism still require support, acknowledgement and resources during this time.”

This is the third year the registration program has been available in Douglas County. The program allows for the safe return home, reunification and overall safety of a loved one.

The magnets will be taken off the patrol cars at the end of April, but the Autism Recognition Alert Program doesn’t end. Registration is year-round.

How Does the Autism Recognition Alert Program Work?

The program creates a database that family members and/or caregivers can register people with autism with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. The information provided stays confidential and is used to assist officers with the early recognition of a person’s disability and de-escalation techniques. By registering, officers can then access the information provided in their dispatch system. An officer can search a person through their name or physical description. There is no charge to be enrolled in this program.

In addition to enrollment, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will provide an identification card that people with autism can present during a police encounter. The ID card will identify the individual as a person with autism and includes their emergency contact information.

Program Goals

By taking a proactive approach, our goal is to establish relationships with people on the autism spectrum, their family members, and caregivers. An active partnership will help reduce anxiety people with autism experience with everyday police encounters and during critical incidents. This program will also help improve police officer awareness and response to people with autism.

How to Enroll

The program works through a registration process. The registration form asks for the individual’s information, a photo, physical description, emergency contact information, and any information that would assist officers with de-escalation techniques. Officers can access this information in their dispatch system.