***Press Conference Announcement For Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.***
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri Announces “Pinellas Project Child Safe”
-To Help Keep Some Of Our Most Vulnerable Citizens Safe
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri
At a press conference on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 10:00 a.m Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri will speak about a newer program called “Pinellas Project Child Safe”. It is aimed at keeping some of our most vulnerable citizens safe.
Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 10:00 a.m
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Public Information Office
10750 Ulmerton Road, Largo FL
At a press conference on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri will speak about a newer program called “Pinellas Project Child Safe”. It is aimed at keeping some of our most vulnerable citizens safe.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office works tirelessly to protect the most vulnerable citizens of our community. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for all people through innovation, technology, and community partnerships.
“Pinellas Project Child Safe” is a new safety initiative for young people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other physical and developmental disabilities.
- The Center for Disease Control reported 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and 50% are non-verbal.
- In 2011 the Pinellas County School Board reported over 700 enrolled non-verbal students.
Deputies needed a program that would assist them in identifying a nonverbal subject who was located before the caregiver realized, and reported them missing. The program began as a safety initiative for non-verbal people with ASD. However, it has quickly expanded to include physical, mental, emotional, or developmental disabilities that hinder or prevent effective communication.
Currently the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office offers “Project Life Saver” to families and caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s, adults with autism and other similar special needs.
“Pinellas Project Child Safe” was formed to better address the special needs of children and young adults. Many people with developmental disabilities also have sensory issues. Sensory issues may prevent the effective use of an identification bracelet, such as those that are used in “Project Life Saver”.
Sheriff Gualtieri wanted to provide an economical alternative for families whose resources are exhausted by the costs of therapies and medical interventions, while helping law enforcement easily identify a lost non-verbal or special needs young person. “Pinellas Project Child Safe” offers families and law enforcement that alternative.
“Pinellas Project Child Safe” is a database for young people who may need special assistance if they are alone or in times of emergency. This kind of assistance may be required if the person is unable to speak or properly identify themselves.
“Pinellas Project Child Safe” includes a current digital picture, demographic information and caregiver contacts. This information is placed in a database that can be accessed by members of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. If a deputy encounters someone who can’t communicate where he or she lives, they can search the database by description and return the person to their loved ones. The system also works in reverse – if a loved one is reported missing, an alert is placed on the subject making their image and information immediately available to all the deputies.
This program can save time, resources and lives. It can reduce the fear and confusion experienced by disabled young citizens during law enforcement encounters. It would also help to alleviate one of the insurmountable fears of all caregivers. The fear of what will happen to their non-verbal loved one who has wandered.
The program is free. Participants must meet the program criteria to qualify. To enroll:
- Their caregiver must be willing to submit two digital photographs every two years
- Participants must be between 5 and 25 years of age
- The person enrolled must have a point of contact or guardian
- The person enrolled must have a medical condition or developmental issue which impedes effective communication
- Documentation confirming a disability must be provided before the applicant is enrolled unless the deputy can verify through observations the applicant is appropriate for the program.
For more information go to our website at www.pcsoweb.com and click on “Programs and Services” near the center of the page, or contact the Pinellas Child Safe Project Coordinator Detective Brettina Adams at 727-582-6173.