How stickers help officers interact with community members with autism

OLATHE, Kansas -- Two years after a motorist with autism was fatally shot during a traffic stop, a Kansas sheriff's office hopes window clings will help improve communication between deputies and people with autism or other cognitive impairments.

The clings, which are intended to be displayed on a car where somebody with a cognitive impairment may be a passenger, will inform officers that a person who may not respond to verbal commands is onboard. They are free for local residents.

"It is our hope these can provide peace of mind to families and minimize the stress involved in an emergency situation by better preparing first responders when they interact with your loved one or client," the Johnson County Sheriff's Office wrote in a Facebook post.

Four days after announcing the program, the sheriff's office said it was almost through its original inventory and was already having to restock.

The clings are part of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office's local Take Me Home program. First developed more than a decade ago by the Pensacola Police Department, Take Me Home is a national database that allows caregivers and guardians of those with autism and other cognitive conditions to submit a photo, physical description and emergency contact information for somebody who may have difficulties communicating with first responders.

It all comes a year after former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed Joey's Law, which helps protect motorists who may be unable to communicate with officers. The legislation was passed in response to the 2016 fatal shooting of 36-year-old Joey Weber during a traffic stop.

"Weber had autism and his parents said he became terrified as the incident escalated. Weber resisted police outside the vehicle and was shot," local ABC affiliate KAKE-TV reported.

As part of Joey's Law, other government agencies provide placards, license plate decals and driver's license indicators with messaging similar to the window clings.
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