Johnson County Sheriff’s Office officials encourage residents to take advantage of a recently launched program designed to address safety and logistic concerns for both residents and officers.
The Special Needs Awareness Program, or S.N.A.P., is strictly voluntary and free.
Through participation in the program first responders receive critical information that can make a huge difference in situations involving residents with physical or mental disabilities.
“The system works by attracting an alert to our Computer Aided Dispatch, or C.A.D.,” JCSO Deputy Aaron Pitts said. “When the address, name, ID or license plate that is attached to the person is run through the C.A.D,, an alert will inform first responders of the special needs of that person.
“That information can be vital in interacting with persons with special needs and can even be shared with emergency medical personal if necessary. The system will also provide first responders with emergency contact information if the subject is in an emergency.”
The program covers a range of special needs situations ranging including autism, PTSD, schizophrenia, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Down syndrome, deaf or hard of hearing and others.
“Too often we have heard stories about interactions between someone with special needs and law enforcement going bad because that law enforcement officer was unaware about the person having special needs,” Pitts said. “It is our hope that this program will help provide deputies and other first responders with the information necessary to improve the outcome of such interactions.”
Sheriff Adam King said the program greatly enhances both community outreach and public safety measures.
“This better allows our deputies to better serve our community while increasing safety for our citizens and deputies alike,” King said. “By having advance information pertaining to a citizen’s special needs, it will allow the deputies to make more timely, informed and appropriate decisions.”
The S.N.A.P. program is now live. Information is available at johnsoncountytx.org/public-safety/sheriff-s-office, which also has forms to apply for the program. Residents may also visit the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, 1102 E. Kilpatrick St. in Cleburne, for forms and information.
Along with JCSO, the police departments of Burleson, Joshua, Alvarado, Venus, Rio Vista and Keene share the same C.A.D. system. The Cleburne and Godley police departments plan to join the system soon and the Grandview Police Department is able to access information through dispatch.
“Because all these agencies are one the same system, it allows for everyone to utilize S.N.A.P. to help protect our citizens,” Pitts said. “Not just within the sheriff’s office, but throughout the entire county.”
Cleburne Police Chief Rob Severance called the S.N.A.P program a difference maker and a huge benefit.
“CPD is in the early stages of implementing the C.A.D. system but we should be there soon,” Severance said. “That’s huge because it gives us and all the other agencies in the county the ability to talk to each other and share information, which can make a huge difference in a large-scale event or emergency.
“The addition of the S.N.A.P. program just enhances everything and improves the care and safety of everyone. Certainly if someone has special needs the fact that our officers can be aware of those situations beforehand thanks to the program will be a very important tool in our interactions with the public.”