DeRidder Police Department launches ‘Take Me Home’ Program

Updated: Apr. 8, 2019 at 7:23 PM CDT
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DERIDDER, LA (KPLC) - The DeRidder Police Department recently launched a new program intended to help officers find people with disabilities as quickly as possible when they wander away from their families or caregivers and return them home safely.

It’s called the “Take Me Home” program, created by the Pensacola Police Department in Florida in 2003 in conjunction with the Autism Society’s Safe and Sound Initiative. DeRidder Police have become one of the first agencies in Southwest Louisiana to use the program.

According to DeRidder Interim Police Chief Christopher Rudy, the “Take Me Home” program is a database designed to help first responders interact with individuals who may not be able to communicate information to them.

“It’s a program where people who have special needs children or even adults who may have Alzheimer’s can register with the police department, and we will have that information on hand should we encounter them in the field, or they go wandering off or someone’s lost,” Rudy said.

Those interested can register at the police department.

“They come to the police department. We have some registration forms, we can take a photo or you can provide a photo, if you wish, and we will register it in our department," Rudy said. "We will have the information on hand. Everything is confidential. No information is released to anybody.”

Melissa Curry, who has an 8-year-old son with autism, said she’s grateful DPD decided to launch the program.

“I think it’s an amazing feat for a small city like we are,” Curry said “You hope that you never need something like that for your child, but in case of an emergency, I’m really thankful that we’ll have it.”

Curry, who registered her son in the program, said it gives her peace of mind.

“He has been known—when he’s over stimulated—to run off,” Curry said. “Thankfully, I’ve always caught up with him, but when you’re in a busy place; festivals, especially—because we’re in Louisiana where we have those all the time—if he were to get away and I couldn’t get to him before he was lost in the crowd, I love the fact that there’s this new program in effect that may help save his life, keep him safe and return him home quicker to me than, you know, otherwise.”

Rudy, who has a special needs grandchild himself, says it's important to ensure all members of the community are safe.

“I think it’s going to be a great program. The more information we have, the safer our community can be.”

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