The Zionsville Police Dept. is joining 17 other law enforcement agencies across the state in a program to assist people with cognitive disabilities.
An AWARE sticker lets first responders know they might be dealing with a person with a cognitive disability or medical-related impairments who might react differently in the case of an emergency. People are asked to put the sticker in the rear window of their vehicle or by the front door of a residence to alert first responders.
The AWARE program was created in 2021 by the Avon Police Dept. in partnership with the Central Indiana Police Foundation, which helps fund the stickers for the program. ZPD is the first police department in Boone County to join the initiative.
“It was a no-brainer that we need to help bring this program over to Boone County and over to Zionsville,” ZPD Capt. Drake Sterling said.
ZPD officers already must complete a 40-hour crisis intervention training class, where they learn how to best deescalate a situation based on a person’s disability or other needs.
“This AWARE program, with the sticker that we put on the cars or put on the houses, it makes our officers aware immediately before they even approach that person that, ‘I might be dealing with somebody who has a learning disability,’” Sterling said. “It can help them put their guard down a little bit and, you know, flex their communication style so that they’re effective, and so they can deescalate any tension that might come.”
To get a sticker, complete a form at static1.squarespace.com/static/611b172fd7b67d4af94ac6f4/t/6179637c45571d6662bbc07b/1635345276419/Medical+Professional+Referral.pdf. The form requires a signature from a medical provider and must be submitted by mail or in person to the ZPD, 1075 Parkway Dr.