STAFFORD, NJ - The Stafford Township Police Department is proud to announce a new program for residents with special needs. The purpose of the Stafford Township Special Needs Registry is to provide first responders with vital information about residents who have special needs.
This program is modeled after Monmouth County’s Special Needs Registry, and Stafford Township is the first municipality in Ocean County to implement it. The Special Needs Registry is voluntary and free of charge. It is available to any resident with a special need that emergency responders should be aware of, including but not limited to, wheelchair-bound elderly residents; a young child with autism; a military veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or an insulin dependent diabetic or a person allergic to bee stings.
The program is simple and easy to use. Once a resident completes the special needs questionnaire, the Police Department will flag the registrant’s name and address in their Computer Aided Dispatch system. When a 911 call is received from the address police dispatchers will receive notification that a special needs person may be present at the home. The dispatchers will then inform the officer of special needs that may be present. Special Needs registrants are also provide decals to affix to their vehicles if they so desire. The presence of a decal on a vehicle will alert the police officer to the presence of a special needs registrant.
The program is completely confidential, and residents can opt out at any time. The information provided to the Special Needs Registry is restricted to first responders with a need to be aware of the information.
Families who join the registry will be given decals for their cars and homes so that officers can observe the decals upon arriving at a scene.
“It is important for officers to have this information so that any circumstance involving a resident with special needs ends safely” said Community Policing Officer Chris Fritz, who was instrumental in bringing the program to Stafford Township. “The information is not just for law enforcement; it's for all first-responders, including fire officials and emergency medical personnel”.
“Information is only released and passed on to a first responder who has a need to know”, stated Stafford Police Chief Thomas Dellane. “Anyone who signs up and has second thoughts can opt out of the registry. We are stressing this because we want the residents of Stafford to understand that this program serves THEM as much as it assists our officers and first responders. Our number one priority is to provide the highest quality of service to our residents. This program provides us with another tool to increase the quality of the service we provide”.
Residents interested in joining the Registry are asked to fill out a questionnaire providing information about the special needs person and their condition(s). Registrants are asked to provide a photo and the specific details pertaining to the person's special need. For example, if a young child with autism is attracted to shiny objects, that information should be noted in the questionnaire.
Certain information such as the registrant’s name, address, general condition and photos are mandatory to provide but the program also encourages registrants to include any information that they believe would assist emergency responders. The discretion lies with the registrant and/or their caregiver.