Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office recognizes Autism Acceptance Month
In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Wednesday acknowledging the contributions the community has made to better equip the department to meet the needs of autistic members of the community.
BEMIDJI -- In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Wednesday acknowledging the contributions the community has made to better equip the department to meet the needs of autistic members of the community.
"In 2021, an estimated one in 54 Americans are living with autism, up from one in 125 in 2010, so the likelihood of someone you know and love having autism has increased," the release said. "Over the last several years the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office has proactively engaged members of our community who are autistic and those who have loved ones that are autistic so we can better respond to calls for service with these community members. We have developed positive relationships and have even made new friends."
According to the release, several years ago the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office was approached by the father of an autistic child about a program known as Project Lifesaver. At the time, Project Lifesaver had been successfully used by other agencies in Minnesota in assisting emergency responders and law enforcement for the safe return of individuals with cognitive disorders that result in wandering.
The organization, which was founded in 1999, is now recognized internationally as a proven and effective method of “bringing loved ones home.” Beltrami County is among two dozen Minnesota agencies with Project Lifesaver implemented in their communities.
"First implemented in 2015, thanks to assistance from a grant through Autism Speaks, Beltrami County’s Project Lifesaver program has brought comfort to the clients who are enrolled in the program," the release said.
Clients are provided a transponder typically worn as a bracelet and broadcast a signal, and in August 2020 a Beltrami County Sheriff’s Deputy successfully utilized Project Lifesaver equipment to locate a client who had wandered from their home.
"What could have turned into a full search and rescue response was safely resolved within 45 minutes, returning the individual to the safety of their family," a release said.
Project Lifesaver is made possible through donations from community members and organizations. To learn more, visit www.projectlifesaver.org or contact the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office.
"The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office endeavors to improve our services for all members of our community," the release said. "We are proud to be forward-leaning in projects such as Project Lifesaver and thank the community for their continued support."