The Charles County Sheriff’s Office is launching a new Voluntary Registry Program with the goal of providing law enforcement with identifying information for individuals with autism or developmental disabilities. Corporal Mark Bourgeois of the Crime Prevention Unit collaborated with Mrs. Christine Prozik, Coordinator of Autism Services for Charles County Public Schools, in developing this initiative. The program is intended for:
- Individuals who may be unable to respond appropriately or identify themselves to law enforcement;
- Individuals who may wander as a symptom of a disability and get lost; and
- Individuals who are nonverbal or unable to communicate.
This voluntary program gives citizens an opportunity to provide law enforcement with pertinent information ahead of time about their loved one(s) should they become involved in an incident where officers are present. Information provided may include, but is not limited to, the individuals:
- Contact number;
- Physical attributes, such as height, weight, hair color, eye color, and other identifying characteristics;
- Recent photos; and
- Triggers, such as bright lights or noises.
The information provided by citizens will be stored privately in our Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) program. When officers respond to a scene where the individual is present, or to their address, dispatch will be able to provide them with the information that is in the CAD. “Having this information in advance will help the officers who are responding and protect the safety of everyone involved,” said Cpl. Bourgeois.
“Our dedicated men and women continue to look for ways to serve our community better and enhance safety in Charles County,” said Sheriff Troy Berry. “The Voluntary Registry Program will be an extremely helpful tool for serving the needs of those who are autistic or have other developmental or cognitive disabilities.”
Any Charles County citizens who are interested in submitting information for the Voluntary Registry Program are asked to contact Corporal Bourgeois by phone at (301) 609-6233 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.