Police Propose System To Improve Search Operations For People With Autism, Cognitive Disorders

The Sand Springs Police Department wants public input on a new program that would help identify people with autism or cognitive disorders who've gone missing so that they can be reunited with their families quickly.

Monday, November 13th 2023, 5:45 am



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The Sand Springs Police Department wants public input on a new program that would help identify people with autism or cognitive disorders who've gone missing so that they can be reunited with their families quickly.

Sergeant Kyle Alexander said that police officers or firefighters will sometimes come across people with autism spectrum disorder, dementia, or those who are nonverbal who have gone missing.

The police department would create a records management system where, if people have voluntarily opted into the program, police or fire could then search through that database to find out who the person might be.

"We can do a search with our records management system, do the alert, and narrow it down on who it might be, and if we have a photo available provided by the family, hopefully we can quickly identify this person and get them back to their family," Sgt. Alexander said.

Sgt. Alexander said that any information provided to police and fire would only be available to police and fire.

"I've heard some concerns about Freedom of Information Act requests. Under exemption 6, we don't have to provide information that would invade on someone's personal privacy, so there's no issue there," Sgt. Alexander explained.

Sgt. Alexander sees another benefit to this program, which would include eliminating the potential use of force on someone who may be non-verbal. Instead of being perceived as non-compliant behavior, officers would be able to identify and acknowledge an individual's diagnosis and try to get them home quicker.

Sgt. Alexander said there will be a public meeting where people can get more information on this program, which would be completely voluntary to opt into, as well as give their input and ideas on how to make it better.

The meeting will take place at the Sand Springs Police Department at 6 p.m. on Nov. 13.

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