911 Special Needs Registry a great addition to Raleigh County

A 911 registry bill Sheriff Jim Canaday introduced is off to a good start in Raleigh County.

Delegate Eric Brooks is taking it up with the February 2025 State Legislative Session. He says if it does pass they will figure out how to implement this Special Needs Initiative statewide.

“If the state can see that this is a successful program here, how can we make it a successful program within the state, then I think that’s the direction they’ll be more apt to go since they already have something to look at,” the sheriff said.

As a parent of a special needs child, if this bill passes Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office IT manager Eric Jourdan says it would mean everything.

“My son (Ethan) is nine-years-old, he’s autism non-verbal. And it’s something that you think of every single day as a special-needs parent,” said Jourdan. ” what’s gonna happen, you know, if I’m not there or in the future when I’m just not around anymore.”

The registry is sponsored by the Sheriff’s Office, access it through their website…

Beckley Fire Department currently has 17 clients in the program.

“Majority of which are children with autism, but we also have some folks with dementia, down syndrome,” Lieutenant Chris Lanna said. “It’s open for anyone that has a disability that causes them to wander from their caregivers. It’s a population that needs extra help.
So we’re there to provide that extra help.”

If there’s an emergency, then what? A whole new set of circumstances where anything could happen.

“With Ethan being non-verbal, he wouldn’t be compliant,” said Jourdan. “They could tell him, ‘stop, stay where he is’ and things like that worry me because they don’t know that he has autism. You can’t look at him and tell he has autism.

The 911 center will have a set list with a tag that comes up and says ‘autism.'”

“With that, we’re gonna know that he’s nonverbal. He might not listen to commands,” the IT manager said. “The loud noises are gonna be too much for him and that really just kind of gives me and my wife a type of assurance.”

Brooks calls this an incredibly good idea, saying much of what they do in Charleston has winners and losers. If they get this special needs initiative off the ground statewide — there are only winners that keep our citizens and law enforcement safer.

“I’m anxious to see how it goes here in Raleigh county and we’ll be kind of the guinea pig, so to speak, on this program,” said the delegate (R – Raleigh). “But I know it’s going to work beautifully and it’s something that we need to do statewide. So I just commend Sheriff Canaday — appreciate his efforts in this area.”

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