SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Law enforcement agencies throughout Utah have formed a partnership to help authorities better respond to those with autism, dementia, and other special needs.
The project, dubbed “Project Safeguard,” is an online program that “promotes communication and gives police quick access to important information about a person with a disability such as autism, dementia, etc. This would include any disability where the individual displays a tendency to wander or shows other similar tendencies,” according to the Unified Police Department website.
The Utah law enforcement agencies participating in “Project Safeguard,” which include eight police departments and two dispatch centers, are:
- Bluffdale/Saratoga Springs
- Cottonwood Heights
- Salt Lake City
- South Jordan
- Unified Police Department
- Salt Lake City 911
- Valley Emergency Communications
On September 4, 2020, 13-year-old Linden Cameron, a boy with autism, was shot by Salt Lake City police officers after they responded to a 911 call from his mother reporting her son was having a mental health episode.
The shooting sparked public outcry, with many calling for Utah law enforcement to go through training on how to properly respond to calls involving someone with autism or similar conditions.
In March, the Lehi Police Department participated in a training on how to respond to calls for service for those with autism or those with similar disorders
According to a post on the Lehi Police Department Facebook page, instructors with expertise in autism came in to conduct the training for the officers.
“We truly feel that what they shared will make a difference in our community as we respond to calls for service involving individuals with autism and similar disorders,” Lehi PD said in the Facebook post.