The Paramus Police Department is rolling out a program to help locate missing people with disabilities more efficiently.
The Resident Identification Program is for community members of all ages with autism, Down syndrome, Alzheimer's or other conditions that might make it difficult to communicate with police officers.
Officers will gather information from residents either at their house or at the police station, to be held in a secure database that police can access during emergency situations.
"Having immediate access to important information about at-risk people in the community could make for a faster recovery of a missing person," said Detective Sergeant Jimmy Teehan, the department's community outreach officer.
Upon registration, family members will provide police officers with the following information:
- Emergency contacts
- Updated photograph
- Disability information
Communications personnel will have access to the information, as it will pop up automatically on the computers in their patrol cars, Teehan explained.
Officer Lou Cardone, who is working closely with Teehan to launch the program, says detailed information and special instruction can make the difference when seconds matter.
"If I'm responding to a call and I see that the person reported as missing has a fear of loud noises," he said, "then I know to turn my sirens off when approaching the house or area."
Last year, 16 missing persons cases were handled by the Paramus Police Department, and the majority of them were people with disabilities, Teehan said.
He hopes that the new program will deescalate stressful situations and help first responders provide the necessary care to residents with disabilities.
ANYONE INTERESTED IN REGISTERING CAN CONTACT JAMES TEEHAN:
- 201-262-3400 EXT. 1375
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