O’FALLON, MO – Protecting the most vulnerable during an emergency. That’s the goal and mission behind the O’Fallon Missouri Police Department’s special needs stickers initiative.
So far, the department offers the free color coordinated stickers for people who have autism, are diabetic, hearing impaired or have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“This sticker program could be something that could save someone’s life especially if they are in an accident and they can’t communicate,” said Sergeant Robert Kendall, “we just want to make sure we avoid any sort of incidents.”
Kendall said that since their introduction last week through social media, families who have loved ones with special needs or disabilities are requesting free stickers almost every day.
“There have been incidents around the country where people have gotten hurt or killed because officers weren’t aware that they weren’t responding to their commands because they didn’t understand or couldn’t hear them,” explained Kendall.
“We want our residents to know that our officers are highly trained but we are looking for an extra layer that maybe can help us in an emergency situation, but these are strictly optional.”
The light blue and white sticker for autism is the first thing that catches the eye when walking up to the home of Alison and Michael Gray.
They are parents to 10-year-old and 11-year-old JD and Braden Lindsey. The sticker is to let anyone know that JD has severe autism and is non-verbal. The family said that if there is ever a reason for law enforcement or first responders to show up to their house, responding crews can instantly determine the nature of the situation.
“Should there be a fire and we are asleep and it’s in the middle of the night, that’s always a fear because if he can’t tell them or is just making noises then that can sound really scary to some people,” said Mrs. Gray.
The Grays said that for them the sticker is a peace of mind, knowing that it could protect their son and keep him safe.
“It means a lot that they are actually concerned and that they know there are adults and children who can’t communicate properly and they want to be there to help,” she said.
The department is also looking at adding epilepsy and other forms of seizures or medical conditions to the free sticker initiative.