Burbank Police Department is now the latest agency to begin handing out mental-health stickers to people. This will alert first responders and police that someone may have special needs.
According to the department, the program is very popular and has received a lot support via social media.
“The family wants to alert the first responder that the individual there may not respond to instructions, they may not understand danger,”Officer Fekety of the Burbank Police Department said this.
This has been happening for several months in Gardena, Seal Beach and other police departments.
The Seal Beach Police Department was the first to suggest it.
A spokesperson for the department tells NBC4 they’ve since handed out hundreds of stickers, and say people on social media have even tagged their local law enforcement agencies, asking for a similar program.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen some very tragic situations all over the country where law enforcement officers interact with somebody who they believe is either intentionally resisting or not following commands or perhaps under the influence of alcohol or drugs when in fact they are suffering from a developmental or physical disability.”
Lisa Golden is a licensed professional clinician counselor in Southern California. She believes that the program’s intention is positive. But she has some concerns about programs that make someone’s special needs public.
“I think it’s a lack of privacy. I think there is still a lot of stigma about mental health issues. and I also think people with severe and persistent mental health issues may not be as likely to go ahead and get one of those stickers or let people know publicly what they’re struggling with,” Golden said.
Golden also explained to us that placing the sticker in plain sight makes those with special needs vulnerable for predators and criminals.
She suggests an option that would allow police to work together with county mental health departments, so people with special needs can register with law enforcement and leave a record with them and it wouldn’t be so public.
Residents and business owners interested in the Burbank, Gardena and Seal Beach sticker program can pick up a sticker at any police station’s front counter during regular business hours.
Seal Beach police say they don’t keep track of who picks one up.