Soon thereafter, these two heroes created the Children And Residents Encounter (C.A.R.E.) program.
The initiative is simple. Families of special needs individuals — it began with ASD, autistic, Asperger’s, and the like, but now also induces Alzheimer’s — register with the department. They fill out a 17-question form and sign a release waiver enabling the department to put that information in the communications center database.
The form captures name, address, and the individual’s specific mental and/or neural health condition. More importantly, though, it captures information on the special needs individual’s “trigger issues” and some of the calming techniques unique to that individual.
Officer McCarthy now knows that for Elgin, those techniques are a bear hug and calmly telling him how he can call his mom. For someone else, it would be a totally different combination of tactics.
For an ASD subject attracted to water, that information is noted. Officers responding to a call about that person going missing would then know to not only go to the individual’s home, but also to the bodies of water they know are nearby.
Chief Meloy said, “It would be nice to have that information available ahead of time so we can prepare appropriately. We can keep our officer safety tactics in place, but we’re not escalating something that doesn’t need to be escalated.”