Sheriffs office to begin new program for special needs individuals
Often times law enforcement and first responders run into situations they may not be wholly trained for. Many times calls come in about an individual acting odd, or just walking about with no real direction. When these calls come in, departments must respond to find out if the individual is alright.
Chief Deputy Kevin Roach has run into this issue before; so through some checking and informational classes in Young County, he along with the sheriff's department and the blessing of Sheriff Holt, they have decided to start the “The Take Me Home” program.
This program was created initially to assist in identifying autistic or other individuals with mental health issues from potentially dangerous ones. A local county recently had a situation where law enforcement handled an autistic man as an aggressive person because he was unable to understand the command that law enforcement was giving him. This, as in any other places, did stir up a rather heated situation on how special needs individuals are treated by members of law enforcement and first responders. If the individuals become scared, they are more likely to become aggressive, with no deliberate intentions to hurt anyone.
“With Stephens County being as small as it is, most of the deputies know the individuals that fall into this category. We are in no way attempting to single out people,” Roach said. “We are trying to implement a program for law enforcement and first responders so they can best assist these folks and hopefully eliminate the possibility of the citizen or law enforcement getting injured.”
The Take Me Home Program is set up for caregivers to provide vital statistics, address, caregivers name, a picture and things that work to assist in calming individuals that might not understand what they are being asked.
This program is voluntary and open to caregivers of individuals with autism, dementia, Alzheimer's, Down syndrome, PTSD and any other temporary or permanent mental health issues. The information obtained is confidential and accessible only to law enforcement and first responders.
The program helps to promote communication and gives law enforcement and first responders access to potentially life-saving and critical information so that the possibility of injury on either side is drastically reduced.
The enrollment for this program is easy and free. Caregivers can enroll individuals at the Stephens County Law Enforcement Center located at 210 E. Dyer St. For more information please call the SCSO at 254-559-2481. Applications can be located online on SCSO webpage or social media. It may also be found on the Breckenridge Americans’ Facebook page, or at the Breckenridge American office at 114 E.Elm St.