Helena Police Department dons new badges for Autism Awareness month

Published 3:07 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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By EMILY REED | Special to the Reporter

HELENA – For the month of April, officers with the Helena Police Department will be wearing a different badge patch on their uniforms to support Autism Awareness.

It’s a cause that is near and dear to the hearts of the department.

“Helena was the first law enforcement agency in the state and the second in the country to obtain a certification in being ‘sensory inclusive,’ through Birmingham-based KultureCity, the largest sensory non-profit organization in the country,” said HPD Police Chief Brad Flynn. “Since that time, we have continued to work to ensure that everyone in our community who lives not only with Autism, but any other sensory or genetic invisible disability feel supported, accepted and included by our officers. We wanted a way to let them know we were behind them and are ready and willing to help them however we can.”

Since the officers have started wearing the patches on their uniforms, Flynn said the response from the community has been amazing.

“Probably the biggest and most positive response we have had on our Autism Awareness campaign over the past three years,” Flynn said.

Flynn said the goal of the badges is also to provide someone with Autism the opportunity to see the badges and immediately feel a sense of comfort or safety around an officer knowing that the officer is aware of their invisible disability and is there to help.

“We also wanted to let the support group of those with Autism, parents, brothers and sisters, family members, teachers and therapists know we support them as well,” Flynn said. “Having a son with a genetic disability with symptoms very similar to Autism, I can appreciate it from a personal level. Knowing people support not only my son, but me and my family and the team that helps my son everyday would mean a lot.”

Officers will wear the badges on their uniforms for the month of April.

The badges have a bright blue exterior with rainbow-colored writing and the words “Autism Inclusion” on the badges.

“Helena prides itself on being a very inclusive and welcoming community,” Flynn said. “We are very fortunate to serve such caring and compassionate people and we appreciate them supporting our efforts to create awareness and inclusion for everyone living with Autism and any other special need.”