HCS parent, Hampton Police Department develop ‘A Safer Hampton Roads’ program
After attending a Hampton NAACP meeting regarding police/community relations last year, Crystal Bethea, a parent of a Bassette Elementary School student with autism, brought an idea to the Hampton Police Department.
“At the meeting, there was a discussion about how to appropriately interact with police, and I was thinking to myself, ‘what if you have people who don’t understand that?’” she said.
In an effort to ensure the police department had more information on her son, as well as other vulnerable citizens, Bethea approached Police Chief Terry Sult with the notion of creating a voluntary database of vulnerable citizens that is easily accessed by the police dispatch, officers and medics.
Bethea began working with Lt. Scott Keller on the specifics, and A Safer Hampton Roads program was born.
“It is neat to see a program that a citizen brought to us come to fruition,” Keller said. “I see the value in it. It brings more resources to the scene.
It also helps us increase time and distance. When police arrive on a scene, this helps us better assess the situation.”
A Safer Hampton Roads enables caretakers of people with a wide range of conditions to share important information with police. These conditions may include dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, developmental delays or disorders, or anything that may inhibit someone from appropriately communicating with or reacting to police. The dispatcher and first responders can access the information based on the street address.
The program, which was launched this month, has registered 16 people, but Keller is confident the police department will see an increase in registration.
“I really want people to register,” Keller said. “We value the partnerships with our community and we understand the important role the community plays in our work.”
“I hope people see the value in this,” Bethea said. “There is no hidden agenda. It is voluntary. It is about bringing awareness.”
Those who register will also receive a window sticker to help notify first responders that there is a person in the home who is part of the program.
More information on the program, as well as information on registration, can be found here:
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