Police catering to those with disabilities in Howard County

(WMAR) - Howard County Police are taking extra steps to make sure your loved ones stay safe. 

Police announced on Monday they plan to expand a program where a resident can voluntarily 'flag' their address to the 911 system to make officers aware of a family member with a disability. The initial program started in 2012 and has since expanded to include other information that could help police. 

For example, if someone living with autism has a sensory sensitivity, an officer can be mindful of the police lights or sirens when coming to the house. Also, if a person with dementia has a history of wandering to a certain place, officers would know to check that location. 

“Whenever possible, we want to make accommodations to best-serve the needs of all our residents,” said Police Chief Gary Gardner. “Having this valuable information in advance can reduce confusion in what may already be a stressful or chaotic situation. Our goal is always to create the safest possible environment for everyone.”

The flagging program can be used for the following mental or physical concerns: 

  • Autism
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Intellectual, developmental or degenerative disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Mental health diagnoses
  • Other behavior that may affect police response

If you are interested in having your house flagged a request form is available on the Howard County Police Department’s website under “Programs and Services.” You can also contact the Community Outreach Division at 410-313-2207 or HCPDoutreach@howardcountymd.gov.

All information submitted as part of the 911 flagging program remains confidential and will only be used by emergency dispatchers and responders.

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