Encountering Citizens with Special Needs? Let’s Work Together.

July 23, 2022

For years, law enforcement officers have encountered citizens with special needs, whether mental or physical, and sadly some of these encounters have ended tragically for the community member and/or the officer. To help minimize these tragic results, Law enforcement realized there was a desperate need for tools to help prepare for these interactions and help ensure all parties had the best opportunity to come out of the same safely. But how?

Once the issue of these encounters became clear, aggressive agencies tried creating “Special Needs Registry” systems, usually accessed by the community via an agency or city website. These “registries” generally encouraged citizens to submit information, via an email form, to the agency so that the agency could log this information into their CAD systems, or into some type of internal spreadsheet. These efforts are very commendable and those who tried to implement these protocols should be proud of attempting to tackle this challenging issue.

Unfortunately, there are many pitfalls to this solution. Here are just a few:

  1. Emails can get lost, forgotten or the officer in charge of collecting these emails could get busy or be on vacation, sick leave, or other business. All these unknowns risk the chance that information submitted is not tended to properly or promptly.
  2. Citizens are not confined to one jurisdiction. If a citizen submits the email and it is added to the agencies CAD system, all is fine unless the encounter takes place in the next town, where those officers have no access to the information.
  3. There is no accountability in emails. When an encounter with a citizen with special needs does occur, and force must be used, how can an agency be sure they can document that the information submitted via an email was received and documented in the CAD as the citizen would expect?

The above are just a few examples of the many potential pitfalls of segregated and email dependent systems, which vary greatly from town to town. What was truly needed, regarding protecting our citizens with special needs, and our officers, is an easy to use and trackable Special Needs Network.

The OPS Network, Special Needs Registry, is the first and only global Special Needs Registry Network in the nation that:

  1. Allows family members of citizens with Special Needs to register their loved ones with no login or account needed, from any participating agency’s Community Interface, for any jurisdiction in the nation.
  2. Centralizes registrations so that officers from any jurisdiction can search and find information about special needs citizens even when the encounter occurs outside of the citizens primary jurisdiction.
  3. Tracks all received registrations, from who received them to who entered them in the primary jurisdictions CAD system, creating easy to access accountability.
  4. Allows agencies to instantly forward registrations, that were registered with the wrong primary agency, to the correct agency.
  5. Creates a nationwide database of voluntary registrants so that officers can be better prepared to respond properly to a difficult situation, even when the citizen is unfamiliar to them.

The OPS Network was designed to connect our officers to each other, and our communities with our agencies, sharing resources and technology to better our communities and allow us all to work together. The OPS Network Special Needs Registry is just another incredible example of how OPS is doing just that each and every day.

Interested in learning more about the OPS National Law Enforcement and Community Policing Integrated Network (OPS Network)?  Click HERE to schedule an in-person or virtual tour of OPS today.