The Maricopa Police Department launched a program this month that aims to provide assistance during emergencies to certain residents.
The Special Needs Registry is a free, voluntary service to any resident who has “a significant medical condition, (is) bed bound, wheelchair bound, blind, deaf or (has) an emotional or behavioral disability,” according to an MPD new release.
Law enforcement and emergency personnel who respond to calls will have information about participants’ abilities, health, behavioral and medical information and emergency contacts. Residents can also submit a recent photo of themselves.
Shalom Gindiri, a special education teacher and mother, said she supports the service.
“Many times, I have thought to register my children so that if they ever interact with police they will understand what to do, and police officers will understand their needs,” Gindiri said.
People with autism or intellectual disabilities may not be able to follow basic instructions, Gindiri added, which she said could lead law enforcement to perceive such behavior as insubordination.
“(First responders) need to understand if the person in the house can walk or function at the appropriate age level to render the correct assistance,” Gindiri said.
Maricopa resident Pat Urbaniak is her husband Doug’s full-time caregiver inside their Maricopa home.
Doug became paralyzed after being diagnosed with West Nile Virus four years ago.
Pat called the registry a “marvelous idea” and expressed interest in utilizing the service.
“I have wondered about something like that for a long time because I thought if I ever have to call for an emergency for him they need to know where we live and that there is a handicapped person here,” Pat said.
To enroll, pick up applications at the Maricopa Police Department or email VAPS@Maricopa-az.gov. Participants will receive a decal for optional display on a home or vehicle window.
The personal information submitted to MPD will remain confidential and will only be used by emergency and authorized personnel, according to the release.
For more information contact MPD Community Programs Manager Mary Witkofski at 520-316-6800, option 5.