Monmouth becomes the first County in New Jersey to create a registry designed to help special needs individuals.

Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni and Sheriff Shaun Golden. (Vin Ebenau, Townsquare Media)
Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni (Left) and Sheriff Shaun Golden (Right). (Vin Ebenau, Townsquare Media)

"It is essentially open to anyone with an impairment," said Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni. "that substantially limits one or more life activities as the result of a physical or mental disability."

Grammiccioni adds it is a confidential database containing the names of special needs citizens. This then helps emergency respondents know who the person is when arriving on scene to assess the situation.

Members of the Monmouth County Prosecutors office, Sheriffs office, and other local law enforcement departments are helping to implement the The Monmouth County Special Needs Registry and thus far several hundred officers have been trained.

Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden adds the information put into the registry is then displayed on dispatcher databases to allow for immediate action.

"At the moment of a call for service, or the moment of an encounter with a person with that name an alert goes up on the screen," said Golden. "All the information you see associated with that would be available to the dispatcher in the 911 center, the operator as well as the law enforcement officer at the scene."

The idea for the registry came to fruition approximately a year and a half ago according to Gramiccioni who said this was an area that could use improvement to better service the special needs individuals than they have been to this point.

He adds this could be something we may see state wide someday.

"I would hope if the remaining counties see success here in Monmouth...I think it's a good idea, maybe they'll take it," said Gramiccioni. "That's not my decision to make, but I'm glad to be the first one out of the box to do it."

Some examples of the special needs individuals that would be helped by the registry include citizens with autism, mental illnesses such as Alzheimers and Dementia, those visually or hearing impaired, and those affected by PTSD among other special needs.

"It's essentially anyone that might have a challenge in an emergency situation," said Gramiccioni. "Whether it's communicating with first responders or being able to provide necessary information for treatment or otherwise."

But what about people who plan to misuse this program and claim a special need?

"We have our Special Needs Coordinator Fran Hines teaching at the academy but also teaching law enforcement and fire agencies," said Sheriff Golden. "He too will be in contact with those that register in the special needs program wanting to make sure we get the annual update, and the verification process to make sure that are in fact who they say they are."

Among those who the registry will benefit is Colton who goes to school three days a week, but also works at the Belmar Public Works Department two days a week.

The signup is voluntary so no one is obligated to sign up, but it is free and Colton has optimism the programs outcome.

"I would say definitely sign up," said Colton. "The officers who come to your house will know what's going on and know you have some sort of disability. There's really no downside to it."

Anyone who signs up receives a sticker to place on their car or home so officers or other responders know there is someone inside with a special need.

For more information on the registry and how to sign up if you or someone you know has a special need officials say you can visit or call at 732-431-6400 ext. 1188 or visit your local police department.

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