AUGUSTA — The state of Maine is launching a new program aimed at helping Mainers with disabilities stay safe.
Maine Public Safety spokeswoman Shannon Moss explained that when people with disabilities or cognitive impairment encounter a law enforcement officer, they can have a difficult time communicating pertinent information. This barrier can create a significant challenge for officers trying to help the individual.
A new offering called the Contact Person Program, which will start Tuesday, will change that. The confidential database would provide law enforcement officers with contact information voluntarily provided by an individual or a legal guardian who signs up for the program, Moss said.
The Contact Person Program was passed into law in 2019. It was sponsored by Rep. Dan Costain (R-Plymouth), a retired police officer, who saw firsthand the critical need for such a program.
“I am very proud to be able to have sponsored this legislation,” Costain said in a press release issued Monday. “Winslow Police Chief Leonard Macdaid and I felt this bill would help many people with disabilities or impairments. Being a retired police officer there were many times in my career that I would have loved to have this critical information to be able to help citizens. “
The Department of Public Safety developed the database and has implemented the program, which will be managed by the Maine State Police, Moss said.
“This program will allow officers to quickly gain important information to ensure they can effectively resolve situations involving people with disabilities” said Maine State Police Col. John Cote.
To sign up for the voluntary, free and confidential Contact Person Program, simply visit any police department in Maine.