“Project Safeguard” aims to help police respond to people with special needs

Apr 28, 2021, 5:50 PM
Eight police departments and two dispatch centers are working together to help provide officers with better information when they contact people with autism or other special needs. Photo courtesy of Project Safeguard

SALT LAKE CITY — Eight police departments and two dispatch centers in Salt Lake County are working together to provide police with additional information when they have to deal with individuals who have autism, dementia or other special needs.

“Project Safeguard,” as they call it, asks families to provide their local police departments with information about someone who might come in contact with officers under difficult circumstances.

“What are their triggers? What are things that maybe we can help with,” Sergeant Melody Cutler with Unified Police told KSL NewsRadio. “Where are places they normally go to for someone who’s maybe missing?”

Project Safeguard helps police, people with special needs

Cutler says some departments already have programs like this in place. They say people who live in the communities served by the eight departments can go to their local police web page, or if they don’t know which one, they can go to the Unified Police department web page and look under the ‘resources’ tab.

When police have this information available, Cutler says they’ll be equipped to deal with special circumstances appropriately.

“If there’s an available officer that’s trained in crisis intervention, they will be the ones dispatched to those calls,” Cutler says.

The agencies cooperating in Project Safeguard include Bluffdale/Saratoga Springs, Cottonwood Heights, Herriman, Riverton, Salt Lake City, Sandy, South Jordan and the Unified Police Department as well as Salt Lake City 911 and Valley Emergency Communications.

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“Project Safeguard” aims to help police respond to people with special needs