‘Let Me Introduce Myself’: New Bedford police program promotes safety

SE Mass

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The New Bedford police department announced a new program intended to make their response to intellectually disabled or emotionally disturbed people safer for all involved.

The “Let Me Introduce Myself” program was designed to notify the department of a person of concern.

This can be somebody who may have an increased fear of the police, unable to communicate, an aversion to being touched by strangers, or simply prone to getting lost.

A form is accessible through the police department’s website where residents can provide information regarding a person of concern, including their address, the name they answer to, diagnosis, and emergency contacts.

The form will then be sent to the department and put into “caution” notes. In the event that an officer will need to respond to a situation involving the person on the address, they will be better prepared to meet that individual’s needs.

New Bedford Police Chief Paul Oliveira credits the “Use of Force” commission for bringing the topic to the department’s attention.

According to the police, when officers are unfamiliar with the limitations or specific needs of a person, they may mistake a failure to follow instructions or directions as an implicit threat.

“No police officer wants to use force on anyone they encounter but using force on someone and later finding out that they were unable to comply with you is especially heart-breaking,” Oliveira said. “In our roles as guardians to the community, we want to resolve as many situations as we can in the most peaceful manner possible. Filling out this form will help us to get the critical information that we need in order to do just that.”

“If you’d like to bring a person of concern to our stations to meet our officers so that we can get to know one another before a crisis happens, I encourage that also and we will accommodate,” he continued.

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