IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - The Idaho Falls Police Department is launching a new program that will help children or adults with mental disabilities in the event they go missing. The program is called Project Home Safe.
The project includes a form parents or guardians fill out that would provide police and other searchers with vital information that helps them know how to look for them and how to interact with them as well.
"In the event that they do wander, we have information readily available immediately that we can share with our patrol officers and people who are looking for that child that will help them to interact with them and to find them and to get them home safely," IFPD public information officer Jessica Clements said.
Whenever a person goes missing, police response is very quick, and they start getting all the information they need. The hope of Project Home Safe is to help them have some of the necessary information as they begin to start their search.
"With Project Home Safe, we can have that information readily available immediately. As soon as someone calls and says, My child is missing, my dependent adult is missing, I'm a project home safe participant and we can pull that information and get it out to our officers immediately, saving us some time and hopefully finding them faster," Clements said.
As parents or guardians fill out the form, they will be asked to provide a recent photo, as well as basic information like the name of the missing person, their birthday, and an emergency contact. They will also be asked to give any information such as what the disability is, whether they're verbal or nonverbal, any triggers the individual may have, and how to help calm the individual amongst other questions.
"We know that every person is unique. And when we're looking for a specific person, every piece of information we have about them and who they are as a unique person, how their disability affects them or how it displays in their interactions, the things that they like, the things that they enjoy, all of those specific and for those specific pieces of information can help us to better serve," Clements said.
The Idaho Falls Police Department hopes this project will be another tool in their toolbox as they help locate a missing person with mental disabilities.
"Project Home Safe is intended for legal guardians and parents of children, independent adults who have a medical or behavioral health diagnosis, and specifically those that encourage them or make them prone to wander. But it could be any type of diagnosis that is, again, medical or behavioral health in nature. We encourage people to share that information with the police department so that in the event that they do wander or there's another situation where law enforcement is interacting with them, maybe you're in a car accident," Clements said. "We have information that can help us to interact with them, keep them calm, comfort them, and again, reunite them with family as quickly as possible in the event that they do when they do wander over."
To sign up for the program, you can go here.