New Rochelle police get creative for autism awareness
The magnetic decals, made by Mamaroneck-based shop The Cruisers Division, are customized to each department and city with a multi-colored puzzle piece design. The puzzle piece is the primary symbol for autism.
Each magnet is to be placed over the traditional badge symbol during the month of April, which is Autism Awareness Month.
Greco started the movement by creating a Facebook page on Feb. 9, through which he challenged the Pelham, Ossining and Yonkers police departments to take part. He asked every accepting agency to “pay it forward” by challenging three more departments.
Eastchester police Lt. Jeffrey Hunter spearheaded the campaign after his department was challenged by another agency. He said he jumped on board because his department has a strong relationship with the school district’s Special Education Parent Teacher Association, and this was a way to educate both the public and his officers about dealing with special needs individuals.
“We have, in the past, educated our officers about dealing with individuals with special needs — autism especially — and how some of the behaviors that are exhibited sometimes may be misinterpreted,” Hunter said. “We have had dealings with autistic individuals in the past and we are encouraging more awareness through the law enforcement profession that there are different ways that you may have to deal with individuals with different needs.”