Yorktown police launch registry to better serve residents with special needs, mental illness
The Yorktown Police Department is arming officers with information on the community's most vulnerable by creating a new registry.
The department just launched a First Responders Resident Alert Registry. Residents can now fill out a form on the department's website to identify anyone in the home with developmental disabilities, medical conditions or mental health issues.
Yorktown Police Chief Robert Noble says the goal of the program is to reduce emotional trauma, fear and conflict during interactions between first responders and residents with special needs.
"If we know that lights and sirens can agitate that person, if we know, OK, not to speak directly to them," says Noble.
Yorktown Councilwoman Luciana Haughwout, who is also a mental health professional, says the registry will be helpful.
"They may have a vocal thing and there is no real, it's just fear, and they cannot absolutely control their bodies and they look like they are violent, and you go and constrain them when all they need is a hug," says Haughwout.
This is one of only a few registries of this kind established by police departments in the state. As News 12 reported, Port Chester police launched their own special needs registry last September. Police departments in Harrison and Croton-on-Hudson also have their own Special Needs Registry.
Chief Noble says the registry is 100% voluntary and confidential. The information will only be shared with police responding to calls for assistance.
The goal is to ensure safe encounters for both police and the people they serve. Chief Noble says he hopes to offer his officers training that will help them better respond to calls with people with mental illness or special needs.
So far, 18 residents have signed up in the registry.