Touring the Police Department….

Touring the Police Department….

It’s not everyday you get invited to the Police Department — for all the right reasons.  Coral Springs Police Department invited our ScentsAbility crew for an informational tour of their facility on Coral Springs Drive.

Billy, Kim, Jessica and Drew wait in the lobby for our tour to begin.

After receiving our ID badges, we were greeted by Lynne Martzall, Community Involvement Coordinator, and Officer Hannah Rincon, who would be accompanying us on the tour.

So, off to the Briefing Room.  At this point Lynne talked to a few of our boys who had expressed concerns about awkward experiences with law enforcement.  She  explained that they may have been questioned at a bus stop simply because they resembled somebody the officer was searching for, or that just because you are in a car with someone being ticketed for a driving offense, this does not mean you are at fault.  She explained that while an officer is working, it is best to just answer questions and not try to socialize or argue a point — a tough but important lesson.

Then we learned about a State program enacted in 2016.  According to Florida Statutes #322.051 & 943.0439, parents have the right to be present when an adult child with special needs is being questioned.  Also individuals with a state ID card can request a new card which identifies them as individuals with Special Needs. This special Florida designation can be obtained by going to a local DMV and applying for it under the above statutes.

In the Briefing Room Officer Rincon explains the new Florida Statutes and also talks about some of our kids’ concerns.

To further facilitate the needs of every individual with special needs, Lynne and Officer Rincon discussed the data base that CS Police has created for local residents. There an officer can find a photograph, identifying information, plus other personal information to more safely and effectively interact with the special needs community.   Our Director, Bonnie, was given applications to give to the parents or guardians of the ScentsAbility crew to be sure they become a part of this data base.

Then we went to the Holding Area which was accessible only because nobody was being held at the time.  A few of our kids felt very uncomfortable in this confined space.  It was difficult for them to see the small cells with only a toilet and sink — no paper, no soap – just a bench to sit on, certainly not the accommodations we are all used to.

Our visit ended with a stop at Dispatch.  Seeing the 911 crew in action and coordinating with the emergency dispatch unit was fascinating, and we did get to witness a call for emergency medical assistance.  We also learned about being sure the location setting on our cell phones is in the on position, just in case we ever need to be located in an emergency.

Officer Rincon escorted us outside when it was time to leave and answered a few last minute questions.

All too soon, it was time to leave and let our hosts get back to work.  I certainly learned a few safety tips, our staff got useful and reassuring information, and I feel confident that with the new proactive programs for our citizens with special needs, they and their loved ones can feel an extra measure of security.

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