In an effort to break down the communication barriers for those with mental illness, the Oak Park Police Department created a program called Oak Park Cares.
The program, that has been in effect for about a year, offers free bright green bracelets with metal faceplates that contain a unique identification number and directions on how to contact the police department. This is meant to be a tool for effective communication during emergency situations for those with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other mental health challenges that may make it difficult to communicate.
The idea for this program came from Oak Park Police Sergeant Kevin Collins’ previous work with Brooks Middle School’s special education department. He said, “We noticed that if someone is diabetic or has nut allergies there are safety precautions in place. So why not try to do something along those lines for someone who has difficulty communicating in everyday situations, let alone in a high-stress emergency situation?”. The police department received a grant from the Oak Park Township Mental Health Board to establish this important program.
In an emergency situation, officers and first responders will be able to look up the person’s identification number and get access to information that is vital for them to know. Personal information other than the identification number will not be included on the bracelet to ensure the safety and privacy of the wearer. Bracelets without faceplates are also available for those who want to show their support of the program.
You can get your free bracelet by contacting the Oak Park Police Department at 708-386-3800, firstname.lastname@example.org or by dropping by the department at Village Hall, which is located at 123 Madison St.