Life-saving autism database launches in Schenectady

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Police in Schenectady have a new way to identify folks with autism or Alzheimer’s disease.

When a police officer comes into contact with someone with autism they might misinterpret their behaviors as being disrespectful or even threatening but a little piece of jewelry will make sure that never happens.

Schenectady Lt. McGlaughlin entered 5-year-old Jesenia into their brand new Take Me Home database.

“We’re in the supermarket she runs off, when we’re at Walmart she runs off, it’s pretty scary, you know how big super Walmart is,” Sherain Rivera, Jesenia’s mother, said.

Jesenia has autism and Sherain hopes a charm with a serial number on it will help keep her little girl safe.

“Authorities, period, find it disrespectful when a person is not looking them in the face so they’ll know now this person has autism now we know how to deal with them,” Sherain said.

Schenectady Police and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, whose son has autism, announced the new program on Wednesday.

“My biggest fear is my son could find himself in an emergency situation or if he strays too far from home and he’s not able to communicate basic information like who he is and where he lives,” Assemblyman Santabarbara said.

Joining the database is voluntary and free and includes the person’s name, description, picture, and the phone number of a caregiver. That information can be accessed by officers out in the field.

“One of the goals in the police department is to take technology and make everyone’s lives a little easier.”

The number on a charm will allow an officer to quickly identify someone who’s lost or disoriented, and get them the help they need.

“It would indicate that person’s information in the database to further help identify the person.”

This goes beyond folks with autism and Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy says it could be invaluable for those with Alzheimer’s disease too.

“This allows us to have a formal plan in place for quick engagement to get that information out.”

That’s providing a great measure of comfort to this mother who wants to keep her daughter close.

“I’m so excited to just know that my daughter is going to be safe and found immediately,” Sherain said.

You can register online or you can come to the station to sign up or if you see a police cruiser anywhere around Schenectady, flag them down and they’ll put your name right into their system.

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