WE ARE HOMETOWN NEWS.

CHICOPEE — The Chicopee Police Department announced its participation in the Blue Envelope Project.

Police Officer Travis Odiorne said the project was put together to help people with autism and give them a little more awareness of what to expect during a traffic stop.

Officers that encounter individuals with blue envelopes will know that the operator of the vehicle has autism spectrum disorder.

This initiative was a collaborative effort between the Healey-Driscoll administration, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, the Massachusetts State Police, Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts, the Arc of Massachusetts and individuals with autism.

The envelope has instructions listed on what to expect from the officers and what they are looking for during a potential traffic stop, as well as a place to keep a copy of your license and registration.

Emergency contact information can also be added to the front of the envelope which may be helpful during stressful situations, whether it’s a traffic stop or a motor vehicle crash.

In addition to autism training, the blue envelope provides officers with instructions on how to handle the encounter.

Odiorne explained that traffic stops are generally stressful so these envelop can help reduce anxiety for those who have autism.

He added, “Traffic stops in it of themselves are very stressful situations for both police officers and for the general public so if there is an autistic person and they are overwhelmed by the experience of the flashing lights, siren and all that and have higher anxiety, the purpose of the envelope is they can put a photocopy of their license and registration and insurance card in a envelope and just hand that to the officer instead of searching for things in four different places.”

Odiorne said he and other officers deal with a lot of traffic stops that have to do with drivers under the influence or on drugs causing the driver to act confused.

He added that the Blue Envelope Project will help rule out the driver is impaired if their behavior is odd to them.

“The officers will now recognize the envelope and say ‘OK I’m dealing with someone who may have an autistic disorder’ and it kind of gives us a better understanding of the why the person is overly nervous or why they can’t find something or why they are acting differently,” Odiorne said.

Odiorne said the Chicopee Police Department currently has approximately 50 envelopes available so anyone interested can head down and ask for one in the lobby.

Odiorne said besides the Blue Envelope Project, the department does a lot of different training to prepare for possible interactions with those who have autism.

Sgt. Missy Lyman runs the Autism Awareness Program at the department and Odiorne credited her for all her hard work in helping the officers.

He said, “We do trainings every year for autism. We do a lot of community outreach for autistic families. She came up and revamped our autistic awareness form so people can register if they have autistic family members in their house. They can fill out that form and we can put it in the dispatch so if we get dispatched to that house we know before we are going there and can respond accordingly.”

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