Hope For Three Autism Advocates is generating awareness among law enforcement in Fort Bend County through the development of “Safe Return” and the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) programs.
Daily, police officers encounter a multitude of individuals in emergency situations. Just as each emergency differs from the next, so does each person involved, especially with individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
A child diagnosed with autism is more likely to wander and is at risk with being stopped by police because of their behavior. Hope For Three and the Sugar Land Police Department (SLPD) saw a need to assist not only families and children living with autism, but other disabilities. As a result, the Safe Return program was implemented. When seconds count in an emergency, the Safe Return registry allows first responders access to critical information designed to help safely reunite families of registered participants. Participation in Safe Return is voluntary and free. However, an application must be submitted to SLPD annually. To register, visit hopeforthree.org/programs/safe-return.
The Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program is a local initiative designed to improve the way law enforcement, and communities respond to people experiencing mental health crises. The CIT program educates first responders on engagement strategies and intervention techniques to diffuse crisis situations for individuals with autism, and or, those affected by mental illness.
“Police are trained to respond to a crisis with a certain protocol, but this protocol may not always be the best way to interact with individuals with autism,” said Lt. Scott Soland, CIT Program Coordinator.
Hope For Three serves as the exclusive autism educator for the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department CIT program. For more information on Safe Return, CIT, or other resources, call 281-245-0640 or visit HopeForThree.org.