Pflugerville Police Department launches assistance programs for vulnerable populations

Travis County

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — The Pflugerville Police Department is launching two new programs to assist people in the community who struggle to voice their needs.

Courtesy Michele Morgan

Pflugerville’s ‘Autism Buddies’ and ‘Bring Me Home’ will allow family members or guardians to establish an emergency contact and provide information that can help police officers bring home family members who are lost, according to a news release.

Michele Morgan is a mom of two autistic children, and she refers to her son as an eloper.

“I worry a lot about situations where he may be at risk,” Morgan said. “He was just kinda walking around the parking lot one time, and looking at this truck. He understands that: ‘I like this truck. It’s the kind of truck I want to drive in my dreams.’ He doesn’t understand that other people may think he’s up to no good.”

The Autism Buddies Program would giver her son an identification card to wear which lets an officer know who he is, and who his emergency contact is.

Courtesy Karen VanLoo

It’s also an extra sense of security for Karen VanLoo, too, whose daughter is non-verbal.

“There’s always that fright of her getting away from us, or getting somewhere she doesn’t know how to tell people who she is in order to get home,” VanLoo said.

Lieutenant Chet Vronka is the officer behind Autism Buddies and Take Me Home. The Take Me Home program allows families to register a loved one with dementia, so an officer can quickly find them in a database.

“Frequency doesn’t matter, whether it’s one or if we get them daily,” Lt. Vronka said. “There was one case in particular that means the world to that person, and their family. If it’s just one family we’re helping, then we are knocking it out of the park.”

Community members who have autism, dementia or a related condition are eligible to participate in the programs.

Applications can be filled out easily online, or submitted by mail or email.  

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