By Ed Harris
The Southington Police Department is making a renewed push to sign people up for its special needs registry database.
The registry began implementation in Dec. 2011 and currently has 80 participants.
The database contains information that will assist emergency responders in providing services to residents who have special needs. The database helps to identify the special needs population in town, allow for preplanning of emergency events and provide communication between emergency responders and those with disabilities.
“We’ve already seen its benefit,” said Southington Police Captain William Palmieri.
Palmieri said that during the last two major storms the fire department reached out to the names on the registry for a safety check.
Officials are unable to estimate how many disable residents reside in Southington, though using a general rule of thumb that ten percent of the US population is disabled, this would allow for approximately 4,000 disabled residents in Southington.
“We want to educate the public,” Palmieri said, adding that in the near future the police department would hold informational meetings around town.
Officials gather the information on residents with disabilities through a three page special needs form that can be found at several places around town, including the police department and town hall. The form will also be available online, at the police, Board of Education and town’s websites.
There is no age limit for the program, meaning youths and seniors can be a part. The disabilities cover a wide range, including blind, deaf, cognitive impairment, speech and psychiatric issues.
The information gathered is managed by the Southington Police Department, though the Disability Commission will keep a record of the names and address of residents with disabilities only, not the specifics.
The information is shared with the state for inclusion in its 911 program.
All of the information is kept confidential. There is no fee for the program and it is based off a local address, not a landline or cell phone number.