FREDERICK, Md. — Purple and blue lights flashed, a siren wailed and the police officer approached a car.
However what appeared like a standard visitors cease exterior Oakdale Excessive Faculty on a current Thursday was really an train between police and a nonprofit.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Workplace partnered with Pathfinders for Autism to supply follow visitors stops to drivers and passengers with developmental disabilities.
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“Should you don’t know what to anticipate, that may be extremely anxiousness scary,” Pathfinders program director Shelly McLaughlin mentioned.
To handle this, the nonprofit final yr began a follow visitors cease program and piloted it with police companies in Montgomery and Baltimore counties, in response to McLaughlin. It went effectively, so McLaughlin mentioned Pathfinders reached out to Frederick County Sheriff’s Workplace to see if it will be a part of.
Pathfinders has labored with FCSO up to now to show in-service courses on perceive individuals with mental and developmental disabilities.
Roughly 22 individuals got here out to follow visitors stops within the Oakdale parking zone, in response to McLaughlin. Among the many deputies had been college useful resource officers, in response to Lt. Brian Woodward.
Deputies “pulled over” individuals and went by the standard steps of a visitors cease, mentioned Woodward, who helped run the occasion. Afterward, deputies defined their actions, answered questions and supplied tricks to the individuals. Woodward mentioned the firsthand expertise is useful for deputies, too.
Pathfinders gave individuals envelopes containing ideas to assist individuals with developmental disabilities. The ideas spelled out what steps to take throughout a visitors cease.
Every envelope additionally contained a card for emergency contacts and a press release to point out the officer, explaining their incapacity. Volunteers secured visitors cease directions to individuals’ autos with visor clips.
A visitors cease webinar is offered by Pathfinders’ web site.
Pathfinders deputy director Trish Kane, whose son Eric has autism, mentioned the follow visitors stops are priceless to folks, too. Along with occasions like this one, Kane mentioned, Pathfinders gives a useful resource middle and coaching alternatives.
Adamstown resident Simon Mullarkey, 23, got here to the occasion to get extra comfy with legislation enforcement.
“I discovered what it’s to get pulled over by police,” he mentioned. “It made me study somewhat … (and) to not get nervous.”
Mullarkey mentioned police stopped him twice earlier than — as soon as when he didn’t know to alter lanes to make room for a police automobile and one other time for having blue headlights. After the current train, he mentioned he feels extra ready, ought to he encounter police once more.
Deputy Jesse Patterson labored with Mullarkey within the follow cease. He confirmed him the within of the police automobile afterward.
Patterson volunteered for the occasion, hoping to get extra expertise. He mentioned the interplay may help normalize police and make visitors stops much less scary.
“It’s good to place this in real-world follow,” Patterson mentioned. “I simply suppose it’s an superior program.”
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