Dighton police, fire departments announce Autism Awareness Program
DIGHTON, Mass. (WLNE) — Dighton Police Chief Shawn Cronin and Fire Chief Christopher Maguy announced their departments’ Autism Awareness Program for April’s Autism Awareness Month.
The chiefs said both of their departments recently created a registry for residents on the autism spectrum that may require special attention from first responders.
Officials said the registry will provide police and fire personnel with access to critical information about individuals in the event of an emergency.
The registry includes emergency contact information, a detailed physical description, known routines, favorite local attractions and information on unique needs.
“As we recognize Autism Awareness Month, it’s important for us in law enforcement to understand the unique circumstances that pertain to each individual we come into contact with,” Chief Cronin said.
“By raising autism awareness through this program and having a database of information to help us with our emergency response, we hope to better serve and protect our community,” Cronin concluded.
In addition to the registry, the departments designed cling stickers that can be affixed to any access door or window.
Officials said the stickers will indicate to first responders that an individual inside may not respond.
“As a police officer, I’ve seen firsthand the challenges that autistic individuals and their families encounter in the community, however, my perspective completely changed when my own nephew who is currently non-verbal was diagnosed with autism, Dighton Patrolman Swartz said.
“That’s why I’m passionate about creating this program to help meet the needs of all community members,” he concluded.
The departments will also be handing out seatbelt covers and magnets to alert first responders that an individual in the vehicle may resist help or need special accommodations.
On Monday, April 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., residents are invited to the Dighton Police Station at 1458 Somerset Ave., to pick up a sticker, seatbelt cover and magnet.
The department’s comfort dog Oakie and handler SRO Stephen Hathaway will be in attendance to greet community members that visit the station.