In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, the Hopewell Township Police Department would like to provide members of the Hopewell Valley community with information regarding some tools and programs currently in use by HTPD officers to assist with making police interactions with individuals on the Autism spectrum less stressful and safer for everyone.
The HTPD currently offers the S.A.F.E. (Secure Awareness for First Responders) program, which is a voluntary registry for those members of our community that are on the Autism spectrum and/or who have any other communication disorders that might make emergency situations particularly stressful. The information in the S.A.F.E. registry provides HTPD officers with quick access to critical information in emergency situations; emergency contact, current photograph, medical concerns, best methods of communication, any known stressors/ stress reducers, self-soothing behaviors, and more. All information is confidential and only used by law enforcement in emergent situations. In addition to being added to the registry, program participants will also receive S.A.F.E. stickers that can be displayed in vehicles and residences. These stickers can assist responding officers/ EMS in emergencies and can also serve as a potential de-escalation tool.
The S.A.F.E registration form can be found here: https://www.hopewelltwp.org/SAFE. Completed forms may be handed in at the Police Dispatch window or emailed to the program coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the S.A.F.E. registry, all of our front line patrol vehicles are now equipped with special “sensory communication kits,” which include items such as a whiteboard, ear protection, sunglasses, and various “fidget” toys. The purpose of these kits is to assist officers in making police interactions less stressful and to help facilitate communication by whatever means are most comfortable for the individual that they are interacting with.
Hopewell Township PBA Local 342 is selling special HTPD “Autism Acceptance” patches for $15 each during the month of April in order to help raise money and awareness. All proceeds will go to PALS, a local non-profit organization that assists individuals on the Autism spectrum, to help them continue to carry out their important work in the community. In order to purchase one, please send $15 to the Hopewell PBA via Venmo at @hopewellpba342. Don’t forget to add a private note that includes the words “Autism Patch”, as well as the name and address where you would like the patch to be sent!
Finally, HTPD officers will be competing with teachers from the Hopewell Valley School District in a charity softball game on May 21, 2022. Admission for the event will be $5 and all proceeds from the event will be donated to PALS. Hope to see you there!