WACO, Texas — The office of the McLennan County District Attorney donated 100 autism sensory kits to the Waco Police Department to help officers better serve those with special needs.
The kits also known as "A.S.K. bags", contain a number of tools for officers to use to support and calm those with intellectual disabilities while on duty. Those include items like noise-canceling headphones, weighted towels, fidget spinners, and flip charts to assist those that are non-verbal.
Syrenthia Rice, whose son Jordan has autism, was ecstatic to hear about the new resource for officers. She said Jordan used to run away from home and law enforcement was not always able to communicate with him in the best way possible.
"When they'd see him out there, they didn't always know how to communicate with him," Rice said. "You couldn't tell he has special needs. You just wouldn't stop him because you wouldn't know."
Assistant district attorney, Anne Jackson, and her son, Tres, spoke at the police department about the importance of the new kits. Jackson said when the D.A.'s office found out about similar kits being used in Bell County, they decided to use $13,000 revenue from forfeiture funds from criminal activity to pay for the kits.
"Let's use the revenue from criminal activity in McLennan County to do something positive," the assistant district attorney explained. "Let's give police officers a solution to the problem we keep pointing out to them."
Patrol officer Bradley DeLange was one of the first to get a kit at Waco PD, and he said it has already helped him on a number of occasions.
He said the rest of the department will also receive kits, likely in December. Training is currently underway, assisted by Anne and Tres.
"With every class that we do, I'm more happy that there are more people out there, more officers that know how to keep an eye out for people like me," Tres said.