The Alton Police Department has launched a program to ensure people with disabilities aren’t mistakenly given a traffic citation.
Referred to as the safety sticker program, it would allow those diagnosed with a medical condition or special need to bear a sticker on their vehicles that would notify law enforcement officers of their condition.
“If they see (the bumper sticker) it’ll be helpful so that they don’t view any issues that the community member might be having, that they don’t see it as noncompliance or as intoxication,” Alton Police Chief Jonathan B. Flores said of officers who may interact with individuals who have these conditions during a traffic stop, or during any kind of contact.
The city partnered with a nonprofit group, Bebo’s Angels, for this initiative, which is modeled after a similar program in Bexar County.
“We saw this and we knew it had tremendous value, and it would be something that would be very beneficial to our community,” Flores said.
He encouraged community members with a medical condition or a special need to come to the police department to fill out a registration form and provide proof of their medical condition.
The registration form would allow one to get the bumper sticker but it would also store the person’s information in the police department’s computer-aided dispatch system. Once in the CAD system, officers will be alerted of the person’s medical conditions if they have to respond to their home address.
“It’s just a method for us to be able to ensure that there’s a positive interaction in these situations and that there’s no misunderstandings,” the police chief said, adding that the officers have also undergone autism training to teach them how to interact with individuals with that condition.
The safety sticker program is open to anybody in the area, but Flores said he hopes to see other police departments in the Rio Grande Valley implementing it as well.
“This is not something that is limited just to the community of Alton,” he said. “There’s people with special needs and medical conditions in every community, and what we want to do is raise awareness.”