Police departments, community organizations, and school systems across the region are taking advantage of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office’s newest public safety program.
But the Autism Safety Seat Belt Covers are making noise outside of Bristol County too; far away from Bristol County in fact.
BCSO Manager of Public Programs, Tina Marie LePage, has been returning emails, answering calls and mailing seat belt covers to anyone who’s requested one. She’s sent them across Massachusetts and even filled requests from people in Rhode Island, Vermont, and as far away as Alaska.
“We had a good feeling the Autism Safety Seat Belt Covers would be a hit in the community, but we never thought we’d be sending them to Alaska and other states,” Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson said. “We know the challenges that parents, guardians, friends and family members of autistic individuals face in every-day situations, so it’s our sincere hope that these seat belt covers make a positive difference within the autistic community.”
The plush covers velcro around any seat belt in any vehicle and alert first-responders if an individual may resist help, may not recognize danger, is a risk to wander off, or may just need a special approach. They are available for free to anyone in Bristol County and beyond who can benefit. Please contact Tina at 508-995-6400 ext. 3640 or via email at email@example.com to make a request.
The seat belt covers are also available at police stations across Bristol County, including Westport, Seekonk, Fairhaven, Raynham, Norton, Swansea and New Bedford. Tina is in the process of connecting with every police department in the county and is also reaching out to school departments and community service-providers.
Recently, Sheriff Hodgson delivered 225 seat belt covers to Sandra Ford, Executive Director for Special Education and Student Services at the New Bedford School Department, which has requested a few hundred more. In total, over the last month, more than 500 seat belt covers have been distributed in Bristol County and beyond.
“Any individual, community group, school teacher, administrator, public safety officer, anyone who thinks these can benefit someone, we encourage you to reach out,” Sheriff Hodgson said. “Public safety is more than reacting to a situation; it’s doing our part to prevent potentially dangerous situations from ever happening in the first place. We feel like we’re making a difference with this new program, and that’s what public safety and law enforcement is all about.”