LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – Emergencies are difficult for everyone, but they can be especially hard for those with special needs.
“When dealing with an individual with special needs, the person may have sensitivity to flashing lights or sirens, for example, which we utilize on our police vehicles, and being able to know we need to be prepared for a variety of different will help us interact with them in a smooth manner,” Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dave Brenn said.
These stickers are doing just that.
Now, first responders will know to respond with care, something PARC Center for Disabilities CEO Michelle Detweiler says can save lives.
“We had a gentleman who was developmentally disabled – an adult who lived with his mother,” Detweiler said. “He wanted to go in a cab and leave in the cab to go to his friend’s house.”
His mother then called the police who she says showed up and told him he was free to go.
“She said really?” Detweiler explained. “He’s developmentally disabled, he has no money and you’re letting him go out in a situation that is not safe.”
Detweiler says that had one of these stickers been on the residence, maybe things would’ve gone differently.
“The officer would’ve known the situation going into it and probably wouldn’t have allowed that,” Detweiler said.
They just expanded the program to the Clearwater Police Department and are asking other municipalities to reach out.
A caregiver or individual with a special need wishing to obtain a Respond with Care sticker can contact the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention & Community Awareness Unit at 727-582-2222.