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Lawrence police create registry for special needs children

Aiming to help police officers and special needs children in an emergency, the Lawrence Township Police Department has launched Lville S.A.F.E.: Secure Awareness for First Encounters.

Parents and guardians whose child is autistic or who has a communications issue may register the child on the free Lville S.A.F.E. registry, said Police Chief Brian Caloiaro.

The goal is to help police and the children in an emergency.

“Police officers in Lawrence Township have been trained in dealing with disabilities. This program will just add to that training to ensure the safety and well-being of both the affected persons and the police officers,” Caloiaro said.

The registry, which is voluntary, will give police officers quick access to vital information about the person that they can use when responding to an emergency, Caloiaro said. All information is confidential.

“It will provide officers with the best way to communicate, known stressors and stress reducers, and much more. The information will assist our police officers when time is essential in communicating and dealing with an emergency situation,” he said.

The registry form asks for the child’s name, gender, date of birth, height and weight. It asks for the child’s hair and eye color, and the child’s hair style. Scars, marks or tattoos should be listed, along with a photograph of the child. If a photograph is not available, one will be taken by a police officer.

The child’s address is listed. Emergency contacts, including the emergency contact’s name, address, phone number and the relationship between the child and the emergency contact, also will be kept on file.

There is room on the form to list the types of behavior that might be expected, such as any kicking, hitting, biting, self-hitting or running away, so the police officer will be prepared, Caloiaro said.

Medical conditions should be listed, also.

The information on the forms will be entered into the Lawrence Township Police Department’s CAD (computer aided dispatch) system and will pop up as an alert on the police officer’s in-car computer when the officer’s help is requested, Caloiaro said.

A copy of the form will be kept in the police dispatch center so the dispatchers may provide other details that may not be in the alert to the responding officers, he said.

Information should be updated by the parent or guardian as needed.

“After you submit the registration form, we will provide a Lawrence Township Police/Lville S.A.F.E. sticker that you can display on your vehicle and the front entrance door to the home,” Caloiaro said.

The sticker will alert police officers and emergency medical technicians as to what they may encounter during an emergency situation, while also serving as a de-escalation tool, Caloiaro said.

Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski said the Lville S.A.F.E. program provides what may prove to be critical information to police in assessing a situation accurately and responding to it with an effective action plan.

“I support it completely and I applaud our chief’s proactive efforts to assist his police officers in being better at the job to protect and serve our community,” Nerwinski said.

The registry form can be downloaded from the Lawrence Township Police Department’s website at www.lawrencetwp.com/departments/police

The completed registry form can be handed in to the school resource officer or dropped off at the Lawrence Township Police Department’s dispatch window. It can be emailed to police detectives David Burns or Ryan Dunn at dburns@lawrencetwp.com or rdunn@lawrencetwp.com

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