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Hobart-Lawrence Police Department creates 'Autism Identification Cards' for Autism Awareness Month

Autism Identification Card
Posted at 6:37 PM, Apr 27, 2023

HOBART (NBC 26) — April is Autism Awareness Month, and the Hobart-Lawrence Police Department recently announced that they're starting a new program dedicated to fostering a "safe and inclusive environment" for people living with autism.

Part of the program includes Autism Identification Cards, which Hobart-Lawrence Police Chief Michael Rankas said will be used to help officers and those living with autism interact during calls.

"The card is the collaboration piece for the family members," Rankas said.

Family members of people living with autism can stop into the Village of Hobart's office or call to pick up one of the cards. After, they'll fill out the card and return it, and the officers will keep the cards to reference while on duty.

"The next time we potentially get a call for service or interact with them in a different environment, we understand who they are, potentially again what the triggers are or any techniques that are useful to ensure that the interaction with law enforcement continues to be safe and positive," Rankas said.

In addition to the cards, Rankas said the department is also now providing police with training and resources on dispatch tips and strategies for these types of situations.

"If there is an individual who has sensory, sensitivity, social or communicative issues that are going on, we can recognize that as law enforcement officers, and we can respond appropriately," he said.

It's the first time the department has done something like this, and Rankas said these resources are just the beginning, despite Autism Awareness Month coming to an end.

"Now that it's established, it's going to be ongoing and continuing for as long as I'm here," Rankas said.