Beltrami County Sheriff's Office Recognizes Autism Acceptance Month
April 29, 2021
April is Autism Acceptance Month (previously known as Autism Awareness Month) and the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office would like to acknowledge the contributions the community has made to better equip our office to meet the needs of autistic members of our community.
In 2021, an estimated 1 in 54 Americans are living with autism, up from 1 in 125 in 2010, so the likelihood of someone you know and love having autism has increased. Over the last several years the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office has proactively engaged members of our community who are autistic and those who have loved ones that are autistic so we can better respond to calls for service with these community members. We have developed positive relationships and have even made new friends.
Several years ago, the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office was approached by a father of an autistic child who inquired on a program known as Project Lifesaver. At the time, Project Lifesaver had been successfully used by other agencies in Minnesota assisting emergency responders and law enforcement for the safe return of individuals with cognitive disorders that result in wandering. Founded in 1999, the organization is now recognized internationally as a proven and effective method of "bringing loved ones home". Beltrami County is among two dozen Minnesota agencies with Project Lifesaver implemented in their communities.
First implemented in 2015, thanks to assistance from a grant through Autism Speaks, Beltrami County's Project Lifesaver program has brought comfort to the clients who are enrolled in the program. In August 2020, a Beltrami County Sheriff's Deputy successfully utilized Project Lifesaver equipment to locate a client who wandered from their home. Clients are provided a transponder typically worn as a bracelet and broadcast a signal. What could have turned into a full search and rescue response was safely resolved within 45 minutes, returning the individual to the safety of their family. Project Lifesaver is made possible through donations from our community members and community organizations. If you would like more information on Project Lifesaver visit their website: http://www.projectlifesaver.org or contact the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office to learn how to enroll.
The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office endeavors to improve our services for all members of our community. We are proud to be forward leaning in projects such as Project Lifesaver and thank the community for their continued support.
-Sheriff Ernie Beitel