Police program aims to aid autistic
Apr. 24, 2018 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
The Northville Township Police Department is collecting crucial information from parents about autistic children in the community and using cloud-based technology to quickly get it to officers in time-sensitive, run-away situations.
Families in Northville who have an at-risk child can submit an Autism Profile and Emergency Contact Form to the police department. The form contains life-saving information, including the child’s photo, preferred method of communication, behaviors they may exhibit, and likely hiding spots around their home. Children with autism are often drawn to water, and in those cases, the form includes a map highlighting all water in the area, including neighboring pools, swampy areas, and retention ponds.
Northville Township Police Sgt. David Roberts, who has been with the department for 18 years, and is the father of an autistic child, has brought life-saving training to the agency. He knows firsthand how important it is to act fast when a child with autism wanders off, and how knowing their triggers and the best way to communicate with them can save time and lead to a safe return.
“In the past, we collected the forms and stored them in a paper file,” said Lt. Paul Tennies, “In theory this was a great first step, but it fails because officers don’t have the information readily- accessible when they need it. We knew there had to be a way to access these profiles from the scene as it is progressing.”
The agency now stores the forms electronically in PowerDMS-a policy management software in use for nearly 10 years to streamline the management and distribution of policies and procedures. Once the form is received, it is uploaded into PowerDMS.
By having this information in front of them, officers on the scene can act quickly and with confidence that they know as much as possible about this child’s tendencies. Northville Township Police Department has plans to use PowerDMS in similar ways for the protection of elderly who may have Alzheimer’s or dementia and are at-risk of wandering away.
Parents of autistic children in the Northville Township area can download the pdf form by visiting www.northvillemich.com and selecting the forms tab on the homepage.