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Special-Needs Program Could Serve as Model

A form gives Oak Creek officers crucial information about children and adults with special needs.

Patch's media partners at WISN have the story on how an Oak Creek father and police officer helped spur a groundbreaking program.

Police Lt. Dave Ashenhurst told the station how he feared for his son, who has a form of autism. With his autism, 14-year-old Sean can't always communicate easily, and that could be a problem if he ever encounters police. Across the country, children with autism have been subdued by a Taser or even killed by police because officers misunderstood their behavior.

Police and school officials in Oak Creek created a special needs alert form that dispatchers can access. Family members can fill out the form and provide officers a picture of the person and information such as emergency contacts, nature of disability and identifying marks.

Patch wrote about the program when it launched last April. Officials tell WISN it continues to grow, with 42 people now in the department's database.

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