‘Take Me Home’ program launched

Lifesaving program available for autism families, seniors

AMSTERDAM – The Amsterdam Police Department partnered with Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara to launch a life-saving Take Me Home program today that is now available to local families of people with disabilities that may impair communication skills, those affected by autism, and seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease.

“My Autism Action NY initiative in the state Assembly calls for better communication tools for interactions and emergency situations involving individuals with autism spectrum and related disorders, said Santabarbara. “The ‘Take Me Home’ program is one of those tools that helps address this growing concern in our community.”

Take Me Home is a database developed to help police departments respond to people who may need special assistance if they are alone or in times of emergency. This kind of assistance may be required if the person is unable to speak or properly identify themselves, or if they become disoriented or act in a manner that could be misinterpreted by first responders.

“My son Michael was diagnosed with autism at age 3. He’s 16 now and I know how hard it is for my son to communicate, especially in stressful situations,” said Santabarbara. “One of my biggest fears is that he could find himself in an emergency situation where he strayed too far from home and is not be able to communicate the basic information to get back home, like who he is and where he lives. That’s the reality for many families of children living with autism.”

The system includes a current digital picture, demographic information and caregiver contact information. Should a police officer encounter someone enrolled in the Take Me Home program in an emergency situation, they can search their patrol car computers by name or physical description to quickly identify the individual, and once their Take Me Home record is located, the officer has the information needed to appropriately assist them in the safest way.

The Amsterdam Police Department is now accepting requests to enroll individuals in the program. Through the program, anyone in the city can register family members in need of special assistance with the police department, providing first responders with access to information in times of crisis or in cases where families are not yet aware that their loved ones are missing or lost.

Take Me Home also allows the police department to transmit information regarding a missing person to officers on patrol. If someone enrolled in the program is reported missing to the police department, all pertinent information on that individual is instantly shared with officers in the field to help ensure a quick response.

“Partnering with the Amsterdam Police Department, we can now provide a mechanism for the safe return home of people who may have trouble communicating with law enforcement and first responders,” Santabarbara said. “The program is a lifesaving resource for our most vulnerable citizens and I’ll be partnering with more communities across my assembly district to make this vital resource available to more families in our area.”

“The program will be a critical tool that will allow the Amsterdam Police Department the opportunity to better serve the people of the city and better protect our most at-risk citizens,” Amsterdam Police Chief Greg Culick said.

“The Take Me Home program will provide our officers with an additional tool to protect some of the most vulnerable residents in our community,” Mayor Mike Villa said. “This invaluable resource will be a relief to local families and help ensure the safety and well-being of our loved ones.”

Residents can register their family members in the Take Me Home program by completing the application located at www.amsterdamny.gov/downloads/police-department and returning it to the Police Department along with a recent photograph.

For more information, contact Santabarbara by phone at (518) 382-2941 or by email at SantabarbaraA@NYAssembly.gov.