GREENSBURG, Ind.- The Greensburg Police Department is rolling out a brand new program to help parents keep their children with autism safe.
It’s called the Autism Alert System, and Chief Brendan Bridges knows better than most how important it could be.
“My son, he’s very friendly and outgoing, but certain things get him skittish and he’ll take off running,” said Bridges.
His own son, five-year-old Jackson, was diagnosed with autism last year.
“If I know that my kid walks out of the house and I have to call 911, I want to be able to give officers, fire, EMA, every bit of information that will get them on scene and looking for my child and making sure he can be found quickly,” said Bridges.
With the Autism Alert System, parents can give police characteristics or sensitivities specific to their child. That way, should police be called to help, 911 dispatch can give them that information on the way to the scene.
“It’s very important just because coming into contact…you don’t know how the child is going to react,” said bridges.
The service is also open to those who care for adults with autism. All it takes to sign up is a call to the police department.
“It’s great…I know they’ve wanted to for some time,” said Libby Caswell, the executive Director of Disability and Autism Services of Indiana, or DASI. She admits there aren’t a lot of resources for families with autistic kids in the area, so it’s nice knowing the alert system is almost up and running.
“It’s going to be really good for our families,” said Caswell, “and I hope our schools and our communities get involved in that as well.”
She’s also helped with additional training the police force is getting.
Part of this effort also includes expanded use of Operation Lifesaver, which is a bracelet system that can be used to track special needs kids or adults should they wander off.