Polk County Sheriff’s Office creates autism decals for those with special needs

The Polk County Sheriff's Office has a launched a new program that allows people to put decals on their homes and vehicles alerting deputies that someone inside has autism.

The Autism decal comes with a registration form and the information on the form is entered into a database. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said all officers have crisis intervention training, but these decals allow them to better serve those in the community with special needs.

"Everyone who gets stopped by law enforcement has their blood pressure go up for a few minutes," Judd said. "We want to make sure that we know the person we're dealing with may have autism if that stickers on their car."

It’s a program close to the sheriff’s heart.

"I've got a grandson who is remarkably brilliant and very social, and if you just didn't know that he was on the spectrum, you would never suspect that until he gets frightened," Judd said.

He said these decals will help them deescalate stressful situations by having the most appropriate response. The sheriff’s office said they received 300 requests for decals on the first day of announcing the program.

"It's really cool because it's one more opportunity for us to connect with the community," Judd said. "We never want to meet by accident or meet here in the middle of a crisis. We want to meet when we can communicate and become friends and know each other before an event occurs so that we can be more successful with the person when an event occurs."

The decals are free of charge. If you don’t feel comfortable publicly displaying a decal you can still fill out the registration form to be entered into the database. The database enables PCSO to flag addresses into the dispatch system, so arriving deputies will be aware that someone with autism lives in the home.

If you want a decal email autismdecal@polksheriff.org for the form and corresponding information.