What is the special needs registry?
Law enforcement and other first responders frequently have contact with residents who have communication, cognitive and physical needs that make providing services to them more difficult. Emergency situations often create high anxiety, excitement and physical demands thus exacerbating these pre-existing conditions. In an effort to preemptively address these needs, the Palm Bay Police Department has embarked on an initiative to better assist our residents with special needs.
Special needs can include, but are not limited to, elderly, dementia, Alzheimer's, autistic, or any other cognitive or physical condition which may require specific attention or assistance in an emergency. PBPD officers are compiling a database which will provide first responders with the information they need to help a special needs resident who is without their caregiver, who may have wandered from home or who otherwise is in need of assistance.
As officers come in contact with special needs residents, they will be asking their caregivers to voluntarily fill out a "Special Needs Registry" form. This form will provide the officers with vital information to ensure the special needs resident is properly cared for in an emergency situation. All information in the registry will be held in strict confidence.
Goal of the Program:
The registry promotes communication and gives police quick access to critical information about a registered person with special needs. The Registry can provide police with emergency contact information, detailed physical descriptions, known routines, favorite attractions, or special needs of the individual who is registered. This information can assist officers in communicating with, locating a residence for, or handling an emergency involving an individual with special needs.
How do I register?
In order to register, complete and return the Special Needs Registry form to the Records Section of the Palm Bay Police Department, please remember to include a recent photo.
Return completed forms to:
Palm Bay Police Department - Records Section
130 Malabar Road
Palm Bay, FL 32907
Registrations are only valid for 1 year. We ask that you or your loved one register annually on their birthday. This will assist us if something changes and gives us access to an updated photo.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Special Needs Registry?
The Registry for People with Special Needs is a Palm Bay Police Department project in partnership with the community. The online registry promotes communication and gives police quick access to critical information about a registered person with disabilities in a police emergency by capturing information such as a full description, routine/favorite attractions, communication and other special needs as well as emergency contact information.
Who is eligible?
The registry has been developed with the intent to serve all members of our community who may find their communication abilities challenged or ineffective when interacting with police. Examples of this are persons with developmental disabilities, Alzheimer’s patients or other endangered individuals. The Palm Bay Police Department encourages all endangered persons to be registered.
If I don't live in Palm Bay, can I still register my child/dependent adult on the registry?
If you do not live in Palm Bay but your child/dependent adult comes to Palm Bay on a regular basis. (i.e. for work, school, daycare, etc.), then you should register. If the registrant is not in Palm Bay regularly, there would be almost no benefit to registering.
As soon as I send the registration, will the information be immediately available in case police response is required?
No. The registration form will need to be entered in order to capture all relevant information. The process may take up to two (2) weeks to be fully processed.
Who has access to my child's profile?
Palm Bay Police personnel who require this information in the performance of their duties will have access to the information. There are strict regulations with respect to accessing and disseminating information. The sharing of this information with other police agencies during an emergency can be helpful when a person is registered in Palm Bay but wanders off in another jurisdiction.
Can I update my profile more than every year if there are changes? How do I do that?
You may, however, only information that has a significant impact on policing response will be necessary. Some examples would include a change in address, school, or emergency contact. You do not need to report a change in hair cut or color, for example, as the police are familiar with the changes that can be made and are more likely to notice height, weight and eye color. Changes can be made on a new registry form.
Will I be notified when the annual renewal is required?
The renewals are the sole responsibility of the parent/guardian. The registration is good for one year and it is recommended that you renew the registration annually on the registrant’s birthday.
After my child/dependent adult is registered, and if there is an incident, do I need to do something to notify the police?
It is preferable that you let the police know that the individual is already registered. In doing so, the information will be immediately disseminated to the vehicles without having to ask the parents/guardians during a high stress situation.
How will this registry help if my child/dependent adult goes missing?
If the individual goes missing and is reported by the parent/guardian, information about his/her physical appearance, the most likely places where he/she would go to, as well as triggers, stimulants, and de-escalation techniques will be sent to every police officer in the area to look for the missing person. If the individual has not been reported and is incapable of effectively communicating his/her name to an officer, a computer check of the neighborhood, coupled with the physical appearance, and may allow us to identify the individual more quickly. This will then allow us to use the contact information to connect with the parents/guardians.
What guarantees do we have that the interaction between our child/dependent adult and the police will be positive once he/she is registered?
There is no guarantee with this registry of a positive outcome. What the registry allows is the ability for patrol officers to have necessary information faster to begin searching. Also, if an officer comes across a "wandering" person who is unable to communicate, the officer, if they recognize the condition, can have the database queried for persons on the registry that live in the area. What is important to stress is that simply having a person registered with the registry is not going to change police responses in every instance involving an individual with special needs. Police will act according to procedure depending on circumstances. An individual with special needs can still be arrested. In that case, being registered will assist police in contacting the correct people.