MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md. - The Montgomery County Police Department held a special night out for those with developmental disabilities and autism. Hundreds of local vendors and supporters were there to celebrate the 5th annual event.
Autism/Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Night out is an opportunity to bring law enforcement and first responders together with the IDD community.
"It’s so simple that if we get to know each other that those barriers are kind of broken down and we can talk about law enforcement police being a resource tool for families” says Laurie Reyes, officer/coordinator of the autism IDD outreach program.
Vendors were set up to provide resources to families and officers all in one room with recreation, art, and therapy dogs.
Go Team Therapy Dogs is a non-profit which provides volunteer dogs to comfort and care for those in need.
"All these children that are afraid of dogs when they see them at the park or on the street, they know now they’re good they don’t have to be afraid all our dogs are so well trained” says Martha May, Go Team volunteer.
The department takes the initiative to do lots of outreach and even goes as far as training their officers for responding to ones with disabilities.
"Our program provides a layered approach to safety and awareness so throughout the year we provide education to all of our officers to the community we do follow ups in the community” says Reyes.
The Montgomery County Police Department provides stickers to put on families or caregivers cars for those with disabilities so officers are able to access and respond accordingly.
Autism Speaks, Pathfinders for Autism, and the Down Syndrome Network of Montgomery County also contributed to this event.