Orange Police Dept. raising money for autism foundation

  • The Orange Police Department is participating in the Autism Police Patch Program to raise money for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation For Autism. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The Orange Police Station at 400 East River St. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 3/22/2022 3:27:56 PM
Modified: 3/22/2022 3:27:04 PM

ORANGE — At the suggestion of its new officer, the Orange Police Department is participating in the Autism Police Patch Program to raise money for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.

The department is selling colorful patches — complete with the town’s parachutist symbol — for $10 each.

“It’s a great cause,” Police Chief James Sullivan said. “There’s no downside to it.”

Anyone can visit bit.ly/3IxT8Do to buy a patch or make a separate monetary donation. When you donate, you can comment the address to which you would like the patch mailed, or you can otherwise arrange to have the department get it to you. Residents can also buy one at the Police Station at 400 East River St., or by calling 978-544-2129 and asking for Officer Evangeline Cakounes, who proposed this idea to her chief.

Cakounes mentioned she learned about the Autism Police Patch Program when she worked as a dispatcher at the Wellfleet Police Department.

“So when I came here, that was something that I really wanted to start,” explained Cakounes, who joined the Orange Police Department in September 2021.

April is National Autism Awareness Month, with April 2 being designated as World Autism Awareness Day. Orange Police officers will sport the patch on their uniforms throughout the month.

The department has also created a form (at bit.ly/36Ei8vb) to enable community members to voluntarily identify anyone with autism or other cognitive disabilities who lives, works or goes to school in the community. The goal is to promote communication and positive interactions, and to allow officers quick access to critical information in an emergency.

“My worst fear is perceiving (a situation) as a threat when it is actually ... a subject is simply autistic,” Cakounes explained.

The registration form can be completed online. Residents can also get a paper copy in the Police Station’s lobby. Upon receiving the information, the department’s internal system will be updated so the information can be shared with other agencies in case an emergency occurs outside of Orange. Anyone who is registered is encouraged to regularly update important information, such as changes in address, emergency contact information or an updated photograph.

Cakounes said the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism also sent her 20 blue seatbelt covers that inform first responders of a person with cognitive disabilities in the event of an accident. She said she will give these away as she deems appropriate.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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