9-11 Calls and Persons with Special Needs

9-11 Calls and Persons with Special Needs

Posted on June 5, 2019


On April 30th the Montgomery Township Police held a discussion with caretakers and loved ones of persons with special needs. A person with special needs was broadly defined; it could be a child on the autism spectrum, an adult coping with emotional or behavioral distress, or an elderly parent living with dementia. Police Director/Captain Tom Wain and Lt. Tom Frascella explained how Montgomery Twp. Police are trained to interact sensitively with those with special needs and to ensure their safety.

They explained about POAC training for Montgomery Police Officers and First Responders, which supports safe approaches and protocols when interacting with special needs individuals in emergencies. They also discussed Smart911, which enables families to provide emergency responders with details regarding their loved ones in advance, should an emergency arise, as well as Project Lifesaver (https://twp.montgomery.nj.us/departments/public-safety/). There was a question/answer period and time to mingle, have a snack, and speak informally with the officers after the presentation.

A website where you can learn more about the “Autism Shield” training of first responders is https://www.poac.net/training/first-responders-training/. While the focus of this training is interaction with those with autism, the training is applicable towards safe and positive interaction with persons with many types of special needs.

Captain Wain stressed one simple thing people can do when making a 9-1-1 call — remember to say that a person with special needs is at the address and give specific, relevant information about that person.

“When there is a call, it is super helpful to our proper handling if the responding officer knows what to expect upon approach – including that a person with special needs is present,” said Police Director/Captain Tom Wain.

Montgomery Police are developing Smart911.  This is a secure database with information about the special needs of a person, submitted in advance by their family members and linked in dispatch to the person’s physical address, using GIS technology. It provides helpful information about the type of handicap, I.D. worn by the person, and the medical providers and emergency contact of the party. When a call occurs this information will be immediately available.

To fill out an Emergency Information Form for your loved one, go to the Township website at:


You will get an acknowledgement email when you submit your form. A link to the form will be kept available on the Public Safety webpage of this Montgomery Township website.

Mayor Sadaf Jaffer attended the discussion and pointed out that neighbors can help too:

“Let your neighbors who have family members with special needs know about the form.  If there is someone in your own home with special needs; it’s best to reach out and let the neighbors know.  Let’s build a sense of neighborliness and let’s help one another,” she stated.

The Montgomery Police Department is dedicated to serving the community with empathy and strength. The Captain and Lieutenant emphasized that officers are here to help – not to judge. Whatever the difficulty, if you are a caretaker or loved ones of someone with special needs and you need help, you are encouraged ANY TIME to call the emergency phone numbers for Montgomery Police, 908-359-3222 or 9-1-1. Most officers have people with autism, dementia, mental illness and other special needs in their own families and social circles.

The program was catalyzed by parent activist Raman Kia, organized by Jeanne Skaar of Montgomery Mosaic, an affiliate of Not In Our Town, a national movement dedicated to overcoming prejudice and discrimination through dialogue and education. Special thanks to Board of Education President Minkyo Chenette for getting the word out to parents about the program, and to Police leadership for conducting the event.

“We are here to serve and protect all members of the Montgomery community, no matter what,” concluded Lt. Frascella.

Organizers of the “Police & the Special Needs Community” forum included (l to r): Police Sergeant Ryan Gray, Police Director/Captain Thomas Wain, Police Lieutenant Thomas Frascella, Montgomery Mosaic Secretary Jeanne Skaar, and Mayor Sadaf Jaffer.