VILLAGE OF PEWAUKEE – Five squad cars for the Pewaukee Police Department will have an additional logo on them this month.
To kick off Autism Awareness Month on April 1, the department invited local residents who have children with autism to affix Autism Awareness magnets on its squad cars. The magnets will be on the vehicles throughout the month.
“We thought it was appropriate to reach out to show the community that first responders are here to help them in their time of need,” said Deputy Chief Mark Garry. “First responders can understand that there are certain actions or circumstances that cause a little difficulty in communication and how do we break down those barriers so that we can get them the help they need. We want to have that outreach that is inclusive for all members of the community.”
The idea came from Village Trustee Chris Krasovich, whose son, Jacob, has autism. She approached the department about connecting with families with children who have autism.
Police Chief Tim Heier and Garry responded by suggesting the event for Autism Awareness Month. In addition to putting the magnets on the squads, the event gave families the opportunity to meet officers.
“We are really happy they are spreading the word this way,” Krasovich said. “The more awareness that we can build in the community, the more people are going to feel comfortable and be able to accept and embrace the individuals in the community that might behave a bit differently, that might be dealing with different situations.”
Four families attended the event the afternoon of April 1. After a brief introduction from Heier, the officers and kids placed the magnets on the vehicles. They talked and took tours of the squad cars.
“I just think it’s a positive,” Krasovich said. “As a mom, it touches my heart to know the community and the officers are invested in supporting even our most vulnerable citizens.”
Krasovich noted the value of the event goes beyond just putting magnets on the cars.
“When they see some of the behaviors and traits associated with autism, I think that’s super beneficial,” Krasovich said. “Maybe when you see them on a child, they don’t really register, but as they grow into teen and adult years, those things might present in a way that makes people uncomfortable or makes them unsure of what they’re looking at. Letting them get to know them, it’s more than magnets, isn’t it?”
The magnets will stay on the cars for the entire month; the department plans to have them on its cars every April moving forward.
Garry added that it is possible the department could consider other causes and awareness campaigns for the vehicles in the future.
“Our agency is definitely open to other outreach programs,” he said. “We’re weighing them for the betterment of the community.”
Drew Dawson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (262) 289-1324.
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