Deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have a new tool that will aid them when on a call involving a person with a disability.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced the Special Alert program on Nov. 1. The announcement focused on helping those with autism spectrum conditions, but he also said it will help people with other conditions, as well.
The program will allow caregivers or family members to voluntarily provide information about a person living in their home who has or is suspected of having an intellectual mental or physical disability.
Deputies responding to calls that involve those who are registered in the program, hopefully, will have a better understanding on the best approach and what resources may be needed to handle the situation.
In addition, a “special alert” will be entered into the department’s dispatch system and deputies will get certain information when they respond to 911 calls.
This program is something that’s been needed for a long time. Not only will it keep the deputies safe, but it will also protect those with whom they interact.
We’ve heard many accounts of interactions between law enforcement and the public ending badly (and sometimes tragically), when the officer does not understand the mental state of the person with whom they are dealing.
Oftentimes, the law enforcement officer is unable to satisfactorily communicate with the person or deescalate the situation and that’s when things can go wrong.
At least now, as long as the person is registered in the program, deputies will know what to expect before they even arrive on scene.
Kudos to Sheriff Villanueva for taking this step to ensure public safety.