JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. -- It's one small step the Johnson County Sheriff's Office is taking to make a big impact during emergency situations.
Eric Wright works in Dispatch at the sheriff's office. His 15-year-old son Jake has Autism.
"He knows information like his address or his phone number, but it's very difficult to get it from him," said Wright.
Vital information during an emergency. That is why the sheriff's office started the "Take Me Home" program. It is an online registry where people with special needs can be identified by first responders.
"We can send that information out to the units in the field with a picture, the person's likes, dislikes. We can call mom, dad, whoever it may be and let them know they, 'Hey, we've located your loved one. Here's where they are. They're safe,' and then we get them home safe again," said Sergeant Craig Walion, the Take Me Home program supervisor with the Johnson County Sheriff's Office.
After being approached with another concern from community members, the sheriff's office moved the program another step forward.
Last week, the sheriff's office began handing out stickers.
"They say, 'Special needs person may not respond to verbal commands,' with our Take Me Home logo," said Deputy Dylan Hurt, Take Me Home Administrator with the Johnson County Sheriff's Office.
Officers train year-round to better handle situations involving people with special needs. The stickers are just a tool providing additional help.
"It helps relieve a lot more stress and it helps officers figure out how to de-escalate situations," said Hurt.
Hurt has seen situations where a decal like these may have come in handy.
"The person is nonverbal and answers very literally. You ask them to see their license, well they're taking it very literally. No, you can't. You can't see it right now because it is in my pocket," said Hurt.
Wright said a situation like that has never happened to his son Jake, and he hopes the sticker will help keep it that way.
"Yeah, we already have one on our car. As soon as we heard about them, we got one," said Wright.
The Johnson County Sheriff's Office has given out more than 700 stickers and has ordered 2,000 more.
Stickers are available at:
Johnson County Communications Building: 11880 S Sunset Drive
Johnson County Courthouse: 100 N Kansas Ave.
Justice Annex: 588 E Santa Fe Street
Sheriff's Operation Building: 27747 159th St, New Century, KS 66031
You can also call the sheriff's office at (913) 782-0720.