New Bedford Residents Can Now Make Police Aware of People in Their Home with Special Needs
"Let Me Introduce Myself" is a program designed to make sure police know they are responding to a person who has special needs and may not follow typical commands. You just have to fill out a form to participate.
New Bedford, MA – New Bedford Police announced Friday that they are rolling out a program called “Let Me Introduce Myself”.
The program allows residents to make police aware that someone in their home has special needs and may not respond to police commands.
If police ever have to respond to that home or to a situation with that person, officers will know before they arrive that the person has a special need, such as mental illness, an emotional disability or an intellectual disability.
New Bedford Police said an estimated one in four fatal law enforcement encounters nationwide involves a person with a mental illness. In a news release, police said, “When police are unfamiliar with the limitations or specific needs of a person, they might mistake their failure to follow directions as an implicit threat. This creates a dangerous situation which nobody wants to have imposed upon them.”
The goal of the “Let Me Introduce Myself” program is to decrease the chances of using force on someone who has special needs. That person may respond better to different tactics by police. Police said this program applies to anyone who has trouble following commands, has an increased fear of police and authority figures, cannot communicate their own needs, is non-verbal, does not like being touched by others, is prone to getting lost, etc.
Chief Paul Oliveira said he credits the New Bedford Police Department’s “use of force” commission for helping implement the program. The commission had been formed last year to review policies within the department. The commission identified a concern regarding police response to situations involving people with special needs.
To participate in the program, you will need to fill out a form that is available on the New Bedford Police Department website.
A link to the form is here: https://www.newbedfordpd.com/wp-content/uploads/Let-me-introduce-myself-disability-waiver.pdf
You can email the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also deliver the completed form in-person to either the New Bedford Police headquarters at 871 Rockdale Avenue or to the South-end Public Safety Complex at 912 Brock Avenue. Police ask that, if you deliver the form in-person, you put it in an envelope marked for Sgt. Samuel Ortega.
Once police receive the form, they will put it on file, noting the name of the person listed and the address where they live. After that, if police are called to a situation involving that person or their address, New Bedford officers will be better prepared to respond to their special needs.