Lindon PD working to ensure positive interactions with special needs individuals
Lindon’s police department is encouraging citizens who have loved ones with special needs to fill out individualized protection plans to ensure ideal support will be available from first responders. The individualized protection plan program began earlier this year and families have already begun providing individualized information to the department.
The plan is an individualized approach for parents, legal guardians and spouses to assist emergency responders with loved ones who live in Lindon City that tend to wander or get lost, particularly those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, intellectual disabilities and nonverbal communication, according to a post on Lindon City’s Facebook page.
Kelly Johnson, emergency manager, said that she attended a law enforcement luncheon at Utah Valley University’s Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism and was inspired to begin the Individualized Protection Plan in Lindon. Johnson and Police Chief Mike Brower began implementing the plan soon after.
“Lindon is a small city, so a personalized approach to getting to know our citizens who might wander, get lost or have mental health disorders seemed like a feasible way of moving forward here,” Johnson said. “The Individualized Protection Plan not only helps 9-1-1 dispatchers have important information on hand if first responders are called to help out, but it gives our residents a chance to get to know our officers in advance and for us to get to know them in a meaningful and individual way.”
Johnson has her own family connection to autism, so it’s easy for her to recognize the value of building positive relationships between vulnerable people and first responders, she said. “Nearly half of children diagnosed with autism engage in wandering behaviors, and more than one-third of those who wander cannot communicate their name, address or phone number,” she said. “Whether due to autism, dementia or any other cause, we want to assure Lindon citizens we will do our very best to protect and assist these individuals when emergencies occur.”
Family members or caregivers can complete a form with information that will be entered into a database. That database help law enforcement officers when they arrive on-scene that will identify loved ones, know places they might wander and make officials aware of any safety concerns. An online version form can be found at https://bit.ly/IndividualizedProtectionPlan.
Additionally, the department wants to invite any interested Lindon City residents with exceptional needs, disabilities or mental health descriptors to meet with them — in a way that would be comfortable. This could include a tour of the police station, a quick ride in a police vehicle or other options that help build relationships and trust.
“This plan will provide us with background information that includes tendencies of the individual such as locations of interest, fears, triggers, calming methods and other safety concerns,” Brower said. “Having the plan in place, we can focus on known facts to search when time is of the essence. The plan also prepares officers to interact with known situations.”