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Calera police department receives special needs service training, hosting community open house Saturday

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 9:15 PM CDT
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CALERA, Ala. (WBRC) - The Calera Police Department has a new set of tools that will go in every officer’s patrol car over the next few days designed to help officers serve adults or children who have special needs.

Calera’s Police Chief hopes the sticker decals added to every patrol car are a reassuring sign for members of the community. It’s notice to anyone who sees it, the officer inside has completed the Kulture City Sensory Inclusive training.

“Anything we can do to reduce the amount of negative conflicts in the public and better understand the public we serve, we’re going to do,” said Calera Police Chief David Hyche.

The certification requires officers pass a course that teaches them skills to identify behaviors during an encounter that may indicate a person has special needs and learn how to respond and de-escalate a situation. About 90% of the department has completed the training and the remaining 10% should complete the training over the next week. It includes officers, dispatchers, and office staff.

“There have been occasions around the county when an officer encounters an individual and the behavior of the child or adult could appear to be aggression but often it’s actually a special needs sensory issue,” said Hyche.

Chief Hyche says the training also includes a bag of resources that will go in each patrol car. The bag includes ear covers for people who may be sensitive to loud sounds, manipulatives which can be held to help a person calm down, and a card with pictures to communicate to officers if they’re non-verbal.

Chief Hyche says the training is important so that all members of the community are served, but he also has his own children in mind.

“When my child was younger, I was very concerned about interactions with law enforcement of fire,” said Hyche. “My daughter is blind. Let’s say our house is on fire and a firefighter comes in with that equipment and that breathing apparatus. She wouldn’t know what that was and may run.”

The department is also hosting an open house Saturday for families with special needs relatives to come by to meet staff to learn more about the training. The open house is free to the public at the police office from 10 - 12 p.m.

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