JENKS, Okla. — April is Autism Awareness Month and the Jenks Police Department’s new cruiser is doing just that.
"I’m very excited to drive this vehicle and represent the autism community,” says Officer Cody Galloway.
The Jenks Police Department is doing its part, in working to raise awareness of autism with a newly painted cruiser, and training for officers.
For Officer Galloway, this unveiling is close to his heart.
“It is something deep to my heart because I am on the spectrum. I was diagnosed in high school. So with my spectrum, I’ve been assisting other families as well. And this is something very dear to my heart," Galloway says.
The cruiser is complete with red, yellow, and blue puzzle pieces on the sides, along with the Jenks Police Department’s crest - also made up of puzzle pieces, and on the front of the cruiser, a bright ribbon — a sign of hope.
Jenks Police Chief Jason Jackson says the department has had several encounters with citizens on the spectrum and he says it’s very important his officers know how to handle those situations.
“Small changes we can make, like turning our overhead lights off during a traffic stop. If you have a child on the spectrum in the car, you know lower tones. Those types of things will make a lot of difference in the outcome,” says Chief Jackson.
Jackson also says he wants families to know the police are there as a resource.
"We’re not gonna come in heavy-handed and try to overpower things. We are coming in understanding, and the ability to try and communicate with them and recognize what the issue is."
Jackson says the majority of JPD officers have gone through training already, and he does expect to add an additional level of training over the next year.
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