The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana is launching a new program called the “Friends of Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office,” aimed at providing support to residents of Caddo Parish who have special needs.
The program’s primary goal is to ease concerns and alert deputies to the presence of individuals with special needs in vehicles or homes, enhancing the safety and well-being of these community members.
Participants in the program will receive a unique decal that serves as a crucial visual identifier for law enforcement and other first responders.
The decal is designed to notify deputies that a person with special needs may be present, helping them approach situations with greater understanding and empathy.
Sheriff Steve Prator, who advocates for community safety and engagement, expressed his hopes for the program, describing the decal as more than just a symbol, but a means to limit misunderstandings and bridge communication gaps in interactions between law enforcement and individuals with special needs.
“We want a positive and safe interaction for everyone involved,” Sheriff Prator said in a press release. “It’s a small decal but provides a huge service.”
According to officials, the program caters to a wide range of special needs, including but not limited to autism, cerebral palsy, dementia and other physical or mental disabilities.
One of the key advantages of the decal is that it enables deputies to quickly discern the unique needs of those they encounter.
Sheriff Prator highlighted the challenge law enforcement faces when dealing with individuals with special needs.
“Many times law enforcement will stop a vehicle and we have no idea who is in the vehicle or what condition they’re in, and we have no idea if they have special needs. We know nothing about it; we’re just stopping someone cold. This sticker will allow us to have our ears really tuned up or tuned in to find out that there may be someone up there that may need us for a special reason,” the sheriff stated.
The Friends of Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office program is designed to break down communication barriers by providing vital information to first responders before they approach a situation. By displaying the decal, individuals and caregivers enrolled in the program help ensure a safer and more respectful interaction with law enforcement.
To enroll in the program, interested individuals can visit the official website of the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office at www.caddosheriff.org or visit any of the sheriff’s office substations to complete an application.
Decals can be picked up at the CPSO Patrol Administrative Office, located at 4910 North Market Street, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Friends of Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office program follows a successful model initiated by the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office in January 2023.
Individuals registered in the program will also be listed in the department’s dispatch system to alert officers responding to a home emergency.
“In the event of an accident or encounter, first responders can quickly recognize (both visually and through our systems) that there may be a person with autism, (down syndrome), dementia, hearing impairment, PTSD, etc., in the vehicle, and they may respond accordingly. This helps all parties on scene better approach, assist, and serve those individuals in nearly any situation,” DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office Public Relations Deputy Mark Pierce said at the time.
Since its inception, similar programs have been adopted by various law enforcement agencies across the state.