AP NEWS

Police seek better relations with developmentally disabled

February 15, 2019

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — A police department in central Nebraska has started a free sticker program that aims to improve interactions between officers and people with developmental disabilities.

Grand Island residents who enroll in the program launched Thursday are given stickers to place on their vehicle and home to alert emergency personnel that there may be a person with a developmental disability inside who needs special considerations, The Grand Island Independent reported.

People with family members who have a developmental disability, such as autism, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Down syndrome, hearing impairment or epilepsy are eligible to sign up.

The registration process asks for information on medical issues, how to deescalate a situation if a person becomes agitated and specific triggers, such as bright lights or loud noises. Applicants are also asked to provide information on how to best communicate with someone who is nonverbal, such as through sign language, pictures or written words.

Officers Michael Belleci and Michelle Anderson developed the program. Belleci said he was inspired after interacting last year with an autistic 10-year-old boy who was being bullied and an older autistic man.

“If we can help our community and show them that we care, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Belleci said.

The department has 750 stickers available for distribution, Belleci said.

___

Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com