Louisa County police working to improve 911 response towards people with disabilities
LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The Louisa County Sherriff’s Office has created Project First Responder to help improve outcomes for 911 calls for people with Alzheimer’s, autism, and intellectual disorders.
“We want to basically shed a light on special needs, and that they are being supported by the sheriff’s office here. This helps our officers develop a need to go out and see and meet these special needs and all. Anybody that’s in the category, get to know them,” Sheriff Donnie Lowe said.
The new program will teach law enforcement how to better meet the needs of those they interact with.
Brendan Oakes is 30 years old, and still remembers how difficult it was to open up when first learning he had autism.
“It’s important for first responders to understand [disabilities], so they can better know how to handle them, because some people like me, when I first got my first ticket, my anxiety was driving. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to handle it,” Oakes said.
Oakes says programs like Project First Responder can help break down barriers for people with disabilities.
“Autistics are more than what you see on the media and what do you hear in the TV shows and movies. They are just normal human beings and they have struggles here and there, and if you just treat them just like a your best friend or a normal person you walk by, they treat you the same,” Oakes said.
Sheriff Lowe says making connections like this will foster a closer community.
“Awareness is probably the most important thing, and just meeting these special needs individuals to understand them just as a regular citizen of Louisa County, that’s beneficial. The more we get to know these kids and citizens the better off we are,” Lowe said.
Sheriff Lowe says he is trying to expand the program to include more localities across Virginia.
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